LAS VEGAS Nev. – Antiesha Brown demonstrated why she was chosen Mountain West Conference Sixth Player of the Year.
The sophomore guard scored a game-high 21 points in 22 minutes, propelling the Lobos to a 72-59 victory against UNLV in the Mountain West Basketball Championship quarterfinals Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Tiesha is always coming in looking to make something happen, to score, get steals, get rebounds. She’s a great spark off the bench,” guard Caroline Durbin, who had 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, said. “She also gives us a good rotation at that 2 or 3 spot. We can keep rotating me, Sara (Halasz), Tiesh, even Jayme (Jackson). It’s a really good rotation for us at that spot.”
UNLV held a 19-8 advantage after forward Réjane Vérin hit a layup with 10:58 remaining in the first half. UNM responded with a 9-0 to make the score 19-17 with 8:26 left.
The Lobos went into halftime ahead 30-24 courtesy of back-to-back 3-pointers from Durbin.
“We started out a little jittery,” head coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “It was a good start for them. They did a nice job when she was gone. I kept telling our kids, ‘Look, keep running, run your offense, run the fast break, run and run them.’ Our plan was to eventually wear them down.”
With 12:12 left in the second half, Brown nailed a jumper to give UNM its first double-digit lead of the game at 47-37. UNLV managed to get within three points thanks to a trey by Rmanii Haynes to make it 60-57 with 1:46 remaining, but the Lobos went on a 12-2 run to finish off the game for a 72-59 win.
UNLV senior guard Kelli Thompson led the Mountain West Conference in scoring this season averaging 18.6 points per game. However, she managed seven points on 2-of-14 shooting with six rebounds against the Lobos.
“We took Kelli Thompson out. That was our game plan. We were face-guarding her. The person on her had no help responsibilities,” Sanchez said.
Thompson said the Lobos played some of the best team defense she’s seen all year.
“Frustrating is an understatement for me. Great defense, that’s all you can say. I didn’t have anything clean. When I tied my shoes, she bent down with me,” Thompson said.
Along with Brown and Durbin, two other Lobos hit the double-digit mark with guard Sara Halaz’s 13 points and forward Deeva Vaughn’s 12. The Lady Rebels had three players in double figures with Vérin’s 19 points leading the way. Haynes and Danille Miller both had 12 points for UNLV.
The victory was the first of the season for UNM (17-13) against UNLV (12-19). The Lobos lost at the Lady Rebels 68-57 on Jan. 9 and 58-57 at The Pit on Feb. 9.
Top-seeded SDSU (25-5) will be the next opponent for UNM and the teams will square off at 12 p.m. PT (1 p.m. MT) on Friday. Sanchez said the Lobos must play up to their potential if they want any chance at an upset.
“We have to limit our turnovers. We can’t let out turnovers or even out shots create fast break opportunities for them,” Sanchez said.
Mountain West Basketball Championships Capsules
No. 1 San Diego State 67, No. 9 Nevada 39
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Forward Erimma Amarikwa and guard Courtney Clements scored 15 points apiece Thursday at the Thomas as the top-seeded Aztecs cruised into the semifinals of the Mountain West Basketball Championships.
Both players had six field goals, and Amarikwa missed only one attempt. San Diego State shot 44.1 percent from the field while holding Nevada to 29.6 percent shooting.
San Diego State also turned 23 Nevada turnovers into 29 points. Of SDSU’s 13 turnovers, Nevada scored just three points.
Aztec guard Cheslea Hopkins was a major contributor to the offense, providing 14 turnovers. She also made a game-high four steals.
Nineteen different players on both rosters reached the scoring column, and Nevada had two players – center Mimi Mungedi and Danika Sharp – net 10 points.
The Aztecs will play the winner of the New Mexico-UNLV game, which is going on now.
~By J.R. Oppenheim
No. 2 Fresno State 72, No. 5 Boise State 55
Four starters combined for 55 points to lead to Bulldogs past the Broncos and secure a spot in Friday’s semifinals.
Guard Ki-Ki Moore led the way for Fresno State with 17 points. Forward Rosie Moult added another 15, followed by forward Alex Sheedy’s 13 and guard Bree Farley’s 10. The Bulldogs’ fifth starter, guard Taylor Thompson, provided seven assists.
Fresno State shot 47.4 percent in the first half to build a 41-23 lead heading into the locker room. However, the Bulldogs shot 25.6 percent in the second half and finished the game shooting 28 of 77.
Fresno State had a commanding margin in points in the paint (44-26) and points off turnovers (26-4).
Boise State, meanwhile, was 20 of 52 (38.5 percent) for the game after connecting on 44.4 percent of its shots in the second half. Forward Lauren Lenhardt led the Broncos in scoring with 13 points, while guards Erica Martinez and Branci Henton scored 11 each.
~By J.R. Oppenheim
No. 3 Wyoming 60, No. 6 Colorado State 58
Benefitting from a 10-point first-half advantage, the Cowgirls survived a second-half rally by the Rams in Thursday’s last quarterfinal bout.
Wyoming held a 36-26 lead after the first 20 minutes but was outscored by Colorado State 34-22 coming out of the break.
Forward Kayla Woodward netted a game-high 17 points to lead the Cowgirls, sinking seven field goals. Guard Kaitlyn Mileto had 14 points, draining four of her five 3-point attempts.
Boise State had three players in double digits: forward Sam Martin with 14, guard LaDeyah Forte with 12 and forward Meghan Heimstra with 10.
No. 1 San Diego State vs. No. 5 New Mexico, 1 p.m. MT
No. 2 Fresno State vs. No. 3 Wyoming, 3:30 p.m. MT