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Lobos Close Down Stretch to Defeat Rams

by Allison Weiss

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— There were five ties in the final 10 minutes of Thursday’s Mountain West contest with Colorado State, but the Lobos stayed composed and never trailed, emerging with the 64-59 win.

Shaiquel McGruder tallied her seventh 20-plus point performance of the season, finishing with a game-high 23 points and was a rebound shy of a double-double, while Viané Cumber finished with 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds after getting the start. Aniyah Augmon led on the boards with 10 rebounds, the third time this season that the sophomore has reached the double-digit mark, and scored seven points while credited with two steals and three assists. Amaya Brown finished with seven rebounds and nine points and LaTora Duff matched CSU’s McKenna Hofschild with six assists for the game high, with the Lobos gaining the advantage in the category 11-10.

The Lobos held the advantage in points off turnovers (17-5), second-chance points (12-5), rebounds (45-38) and steals (7-4) in addition to assists.

UNM scored the first five points of the game and controlled the game for the first 10 minutes of play, gaining a 16-4 advantage on a LaTascya jumper as part of an 8-0 run. The margin held at 10 through the first quarter at 22-12 with the Lobos outshooting the Rams 58.8 percent to 29.4 percent, with McGruder responsible for seven points and Brown for six.

The tables turned in the second quarter with CSU making a run to take its first lead at 25-24 with 5:39 to play in the quarter, but McGruder and the Lobos answered with a layup a little more than a minute later to reclaim the lead. CSU pulled ahead at 29-26 before a Cumber three-pointer provided the equalizer with 1:06 remaining, however, Colorado State closed the quarter with the final basket to take the 31-29 lead into the break.

New Mexico started the third quarter much like it did the first, scoring the first 11 points in the first four minutes out of the half to build a nine-point gap at 40-31. CSU scored its first basket of the quarter with 3:41 remaining in the frame, although McGruder got the points right back on a second-chance layup after an Augmon steal and offensive rebound. The Rams closed to within four at 42-38 with 1:07 on the clock before Cumber closed the quarter on a three-pointer to push the Lobo into double figures.

UNM outscored CSU 16-7 in the third with McGruder scoring seven points and collecting six rebounds, and the Lobos outscoring the Rams 9-2 in second-chance points after grabbing seven offensive rebounds.

McGruder opened the scoring in the fourth to push the margin to nine, but the Rams responded with three consecutive three-pointers to tie the game up at 47 with 7 minutes left. Augmon put the Lobos back in front, to which the Rams hit two free throws to create another tie.

The Lobos capitalized on drawing contact and getting to the line to with two LaTora free throws, an Augmon free throw and two Brown free throws to go ahead 54-49, although the lead didn’t hold as the Rams came back to tie the game up at 55 with 2:28 on the clock. The Lobos again went ahead after McGruder gave the Lobos the 57-55 lead on a layup with 1:34 to go, and after CSU made a layup on its end for another tie, McGruder hit a pair of free throws with under a minute to play. CSU evened the score at 59 with 38 seconds to play, but Augmon provided the go-ahead basket on a fast-break layup. After taking a timeout, CSU missed a three-point attempt with McGruder grabbing the rebound. Forced to foul, Cumber was sent to the line, where the New Mexico native knocked down both free throws to put the lead to four at 63-59 with 15 seconds remaining. Another missed CSU three-pointer led to Augmon securing the rebound and McGruder sealed the game at the line with a free throw with four seconds left for the final score.

McGruder accounted for seven points in the fourth quarter with Augmon scoring five, and as a team, the Lobos went 11-14 at the free-throw line to secure the win. The Lobos entered the bonus with 4:53 remaining in the quarter and went 8-10 at the line during the remainder of the game to close out the win, with Cumber going 2-2 and Brown and McGruder each going 3-4.

With the win, the Lobos improve to 12-9 on the season, 4-4 in MW. UNM returns to the road to face Utah State on Saturday, Jan. 28.