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Sunday, December 21, 2014

UNM women snap four-game skid with victory over Broncos

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By Aaron Sweet / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Freshman point guard Bryce Owens drives for a layup against Boise State on Wednesday at The Pit. The Lobos snapped a four game losing skid with a 58-53 victory over the Broncos.

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Three underclassmen led the way to snap a four-game losing streak for the UNM women’s basketball team.

Freshman guard Bryce Owens, freshman post Whitney Johnson and sophomore guard Antiesha Brown accounted for 70 percent of the Lobos’ points in a 58-53 victory over Boise State Wednesday night at The Pit.

New Mexico got off to a sluggish start by committing 12 first-half turnovers and trailed 30-24 at halftime. But in the second half, the Lobos shot 57.1 percent from the field and limited the Broncos to only 23 points in the half.

Head coach Yvonne Sanchez said the team’s resiliency spurred the comeback.

“I’m very proud of our effort,” Sanchez said. “That’s how our games are going to be. Our youth comes into play, we’re still gelling together, and we need to get better at defense — but we’ll take it.”

The win not only ends a four-game skid that began Dec. 20 at UTEP, but it also provides the Lobos (9-7, MWC 1-2) with their first Mountain West victory of the season since conference play began.

The second-half comeback has the potential to turn the season around, but it started with a confidence booster at halftime, Sanchez said.

“I told them at halftime, ‘You don’t need to be afraid to fail. Just go hard and good things will happen. If it doesn’t, then your teammates will pick you up.’ That’s what we did in the second half,” she said.

Texas Tech transfer Brown made her debut at The Pit after sitting out the last semester due to NCAA transfer rules. Brown, who provided a game-high 16 points along with five rebounds, said the victory removes some pressure from the team.

“It feels great,” she said. “I wouldn’t say we were backed into a corner just yet, but now we can avoid that situation. Now we have something to build on.”

With less than a minute to play, Brown nailed the game-clinching shot and put the Lobos up 54-49. Sanchez said she agreed with Brown’s decision to add to the point total instead of winding down the clock.

“You don’t tell her not to shoot it, but you wonder what you should do in that situation,” Sanchez said. “My philosophy is if you have a good shot, I don’t care what the clock says. You may never get the same shot. After that, it was a ballgame.”

Johnson set a new career high with 14 points, while going 7 of 8 from the field and providing a reliable inside presence.

“We had good team chemistry all around, and it just clicked this game,” Johnson said. “We’re ready for a winning streak.”