The UNM women’s basketball team had its hands full last night, as the Lobos beat the Titans of Cal State Fullerton in The Pit 52-43.
“It was just a grind,” UNM head coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “That first half was like hand-to-hand combat. Every time I looked, hands were flailing all over the place; maybe even a karate kick here or there.”
UNM was led on the night by freshman guard Bryce Owens’s eight points, six steals, and four assists.
“Bryce is doing everything she can to get things done,” Sanchez said. “She anticipates well, she’s quick, and she has a knack for the game.”
The Titans’ sophomore guard Chante Miles led all scorers with 12 points, while junior guard Sara Halasz paced the Lobos with nine points. This was the first game that the Lobos did not have a double digit scorer since a game against TCU on March 11, 2011.
The Lobos started with the hot hand, going on a 7-0 run to start the game. The Titans rallied, and took their first lead of the game with a score of 16-15 and 5:35 to go in the half. The rest of the period saw the lead go back and forth between the teams, before UNM scored the final two buckets of the half.
The Lobos entered the lockers with a 21-18 lead. Senior forward Jourdan Erskine led all scorers at the break with five points.
The adjustments made by Sanchez at halftime worked well, and the Lobos ran away with the game in the second half. Owens hit a 3 with 16:11 to go, putting the Lobos up 33-22 and giving the team their first double-digit lead of the night. Owens’ 3 was the only shot from beyond the arc that UNM made on the night.
“To make the adjustments we made in the second half, and to build that lead, that was good,” Sanchez said. “If we had let those guys hang around for a while, we would have been in trouble.”
The Lobos lead stretched to 19 with 3:32 to go, and the team led 48-33 with 1:14 before the Titans began to rally. Over that last 1:14 of play, Fullerton outscored UNM 10-4.
“I thought our effort was tremendous, except for the last 56 seconds,” Sanchez said. “We held them to 30 points for a long time, and they just went crazy and we didn’t finish strong.”
The team had an injury scare with 6:21 to go. Senior guard Caroline Durbin landed hard on her head after going up for a rebound against Titan junior forward Brianna Barfield. Durbin was helped off the court, but was able to return to the game with 4:50 to play.
The win improved the team’s record to 7-2. The record is the best that the Lobos have had since the 2008-2009 season.
“It’s a great feeling for us to get this win,” Halasz said. “You learn from a win. Things like the (offensive) boards and the last minute of the game, we need to work on those.”