Defense was the theme of the night for the UNM women’s basketball team, which beat in-state rival New Mexico State 60-37.
The Lobos held their rivals scoreless from beyond the arc, with the Aggies missing all 18 of their attempted 3s.
UNM is off to their first 4-0 start since the 2004-2005 season. That team finished 26-4, setting the mark for best win percentage in school history before falling to Purdue in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“4-0, that’s fun,” UNM head coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “We’re still a work in progress, and we’re going to be for a little bit, but you’d rather learn your lessons through a win.”
The Lobos got out quick in the first half, taking a double digit lead within nine minutes. The gap between the two teams remained the same for most of the half. The Aggies picked up their scoring near the end of the period. The two teams returned to the locker rooms with the score 27-22 in the Lobos’ favor.
“There was a stretch where we just didn’t stay poised,” Sanchez said. “They pressed us and we threw the ball away, but in the second half we figured it out.”
The first half lead was due in large part to strong efforts by senior forward Jourdan Erskine and freshman guard Bryce Owens.
Erskine dominated the paint throughout the half, with four rebounds and two blocks before the break. Owens, who played all 20 minutes of the first half, consistently found open Lobos. She had five assists at halftime.
Opening the second half on an 11-4 run, the Lobos took the momentum from the Aggies and never gave it back. Senior guard Caroline Durbin led all players in scoring with 14 points, including a 3-point basket in the second half. The score put an end to any hopes of an Aggie comeback.
“I could feel the momentum,” Durbin said. “Right before that I had missed a three, so when I got it back I knew ‘I have to knock this down’. I feel like it got us going, I think everyone felt energized by it.”
UNM outscored NMSU 33-15 in the second period, holding the Aggies to just 4-32 from the field.
“We just made sure that we contested shots,” Sanchez said. “We sat on their right hand so they had to go left. Some of our little adjustments hurt them; they rushed their shots and we tried to get the rebounds.”
Owens continued to efficiently distribute the ball throughout the second half. She finished the game with 10 assists and three turnovers. Owens’ 10 assists are the most since Mandi Moore’s 11 assists versus Wyoming in the 2003-04 season.
“Lefty point guards are the best,” Sanchez said. “I think (Durbin) likes the fact that she doesn’t have to score 20 points a game for us to be successful. It has to be balanced for us to be successful, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Lobos’ next game will be against North Texas in the first round of the New Mexico Thanksgiving Tournament on Friday. The other two teams participating in the tournament are Georgia and St. Bonaventure.