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Lobos Edge Out Aztecs Behind Season Highs at Free Throw Line

by Allison Weiss

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—In true New Mexico-San Diego State fashion, Wednesday’s game come down to the final possession with the Lobos emerging with a 66-63 win in a game that had 20 lead changes and 14 ties. Of that, eight lead changes and four ties occurred in the final quarter.

UNM edged out SDSU 18-17 in the fourth quarter behind 9-11 free throw shooting, with the Lobos making their final eight free throws with Nyah Wilson accounting for four and Hulda Joaquim and Aniyah Augmon two apiece.

On the night, UNM went 28-34 from the line, a season high in both makes and attempts, led by a 9-12 effort from Wilson, 7-9 from Augmon, Joaquim 4-4, Lara Langermann 3-3, Viané Cumber 2-2 and Paula Reus 3-4.

Augmon led the scoring with 20 points, Wilson finished with 19, while also tying the team high in rebounds (eight), steals (four, which also tied her career high), and led the team with three assists, and Reus rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11, while also bringing down eight boards and creating four steals.

As a team, UNM forced 12 steals with Joaquim finishing with two and Langermann and Augmon one each, and blocked six shots, led by four from Charlotte Kohl and two from Reus.

The aggressiveness started early for UNM, leading to four trips to the free-throw line, where the Lobos went 5-8 by the media timeout. SDSU took some momentum out of the timeout with a 5-0 run that put the visitors up 13-7, however, UNM countered with a 9-0 run put them up 16-13, with a Cumber transition three-pointer putting UNM in front 14-13. The Lobos maintained their lead through the remainder of the quarter, again aided by trips to the free throw line, going 11-14 to lead 18-17 at the end of the first quarter.

An Augmon layup off of a Joaquim steal started the second quarter scoring with the Lobos pushing the lead to four at 21-17 before SDSU tied the game at 21 and took a three-point lead behind a 7-0 run. Two free throws by Wilson put the Lobos back up 27-26 and a Wilson jumper on the next UNM possession again put the Lobos ahead by one at 29-28 with 1:51 left in the quarter. An Aztec three-pointer changed the lead again, to which two Augmon free throws created another tie at 31 before SDSU closed the period with a steal and fast-break layup for the 33-31 score at the break.

It took 16 seconds into the third quarter for Wilson to tie the game back up with a jumper, with three more ties at 35, 37 and 39 before the Lobos were able to get some separation using defensive pressure to cause three consecutive steals that turned into a 44-39 advantage. While SDSU closed the margin, UNM led 48-46 at the end of the quarter.

UNM outscored SDSU 17-13 in the quarter and 14-4 in the paint, led by six points from Wilson and five points from Reus.

The back-and-forth continued in the final quarter with SDSU taking a 49-48 lead to start the quarter, to which an Augmon corner three flipped the lead again. A 6-0 Aztec run put the Lobos in a four-point deficit with 5:20 remaining, but the Lobos again had a response, chipping away with a Wilson free throw, an Augmon layup and two Augmon free throws to put the Lobos up 56-55 with 2:45 on the clock. In the final stretch, there four lead changes and one tie before an Augmon layup with 1:13 provided the final lead change at 60-59.

A Wilson steal with 47 seconds remaining led to two free throws, which was followed by a Reus steal with 30 seconds left that led to two Joaquim free throws that put the Lobos up 64-59. The Aztecs cut the lead to three with two free throws with 12 seconds left, but Wilson restored the five-point lead with two final free throws with nine seconds on the clock.  SDSU made a layup four seconds later and forced a turnover in the final five seconds, but a half-court last-second heave missed for the 66-63 final score.

With the win, the Lobos improve to 20-9 on the season, 11-5 in the Mountain West and have won 20 games in the last three years and for the fifth time under Coach Mike Bradbury’s eight years at UNM. In addition, the Lobos are now 18-0 on the season when scoring at least 60 points and 5-1 in one-possession games.

The Lobos host Nevada for their final MW home game on Saturday, March 2 at 2 p.m.