LAS VEGAS, Nev. – San Diego State was too much too early for the New Mexico women’s basketball team Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Aztecs started off the game with a 12-0 run capped by guard Courtney Clements 3-pointer with 16:32 remaining in the first half. Guard Caroline Durbin hit the first basket, a 10-foot jumper, for the Lobos to cut the deficit to 10 with 14:43 left in the half.
That’s as close as they could get in a 67-39 Mountain West Basketball Championships semifinals loss.
“That’s the biggest thing we said, is they can’t get loose early. They’re notorious for doing that. They jumped on us right away. We were tentative on offense. We backed down a little bit, we were on our heels,” head coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “When we got on our heels a little bit, then they started their transition. We know they were capable of it.”
The Lobos scored zero fast-break points compared to the Aztecs 10, and Durbin said SDSU (26-5) dictated from the get-go.
“They’re really good at jumping on you early. I think they did the same thing against Nevada (Thursday),” she said. “They did it by getting out and running. They have everyone sprinting the floor as hard as they can. That’s tough to guard. And they find each other really well.”
SDSU’s defense stifled UNM (17-14), who shot 20.4 percent or 11-of-54 for the contest. The Aztecs hit 46.3 percent (25 of 54) of their attempts. No Lobo scored in double figures or had more than two field goals. Forward Khadijah Shumpert paced UNM with eight points on 2 of 7 shooting.
“They took us out of everything that we wanted to do. Their defense was terrific,” Sanchez said. “It’s easier said than done to out there and trying to find a little bit of a bend in the armor. We did it in some spurts, but it wasn’t enough, and it was few and far between”
Clements led SDSU in scoring with a game-high 15 points, guard Chelsea Hopkins was second with 14 points on 5 of 9 shooting. She also grabbed a game-high 14 boards. Center Malia Nahinu had 10 points and three rebounds for the Aztecs.
The game was the last for seniors Durbin, guard Jayme Jackson, forward Chinyere Nnaji and forward Jourdan Erskine. Shumpert said it’s going to be a tough transition next season without the seniors.
“Coming in as a freshman, our senior class definitely personally helped me a lot, taught me a lot of things,” Shumpert said. “It’s going to be really hard losing Caroline, Jourdan, Chin and Jayme. It’s going to be really hard for me next year not to have them around.”
No. 2 Fresno State 63, No. 3 Wyoming 62
LAS VEGAS Nev. – Guard Ki-Ki Moore hit a jumper with three seconds left to lift Fresno State over Wyoming 63-62 in the other semifinal.
The Cowgirls overcame a seven-point deficit in the final three minutes and retook the lead with 13 seconds after forward Kayla Woodward nailed a jumper. Moore then hit the game-winning basket to put the Bulldogs into the Mountain West Basketball Championship game versus No. 1 seed SDSU.
Fresno had three double-digit scores. Moore paced the team with a game-high 22 points on 9 of 19 shooting, guard Taylor Thompson had 17 points and guard Bree Farley scored 11. Woodward led Wyoming with 22 points with forward Chaundra Sewell adding 18.
The Bulldogs face the Aztecs for the MWC tournament title and an automatic bid into the NCAA tourney.
Mountain West Basketball Championship Game
No. 1 San Diego State vs. No. 3 Fresno State, 8 p.m. MT