Despite a late surge by the New Mexico women’s basketball team, its struggle on defense allowed Utah State to walk out of The Pit with a 75-69 victory Wednesday night.
UNM (7-12, 2-6 Mountain West) trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half, which proved to be too large of a deficit to overcome. With the win, USU improved to 9-10, 3-5 MW.
“We struggled guarding,” Sanchez said. “69 points should be enough to win a game.”
Sanchez said that the Lobos are having difficulties defensively, especially with communication during their five-game losing streak.
Forward Kiana Keller and guard Antiesha Brown try to steal the ball from Stephanie Bairstow, center, Cameron Bairstow’s sister. This game marks the fifth straight loss for the Lobos.
New Mexico's Khadijah Shumpert and Utah State's Stephanie Bairstow
Point guard Bryce Owens’ five 3-pointers and 17 points were no match for USU senior guard Jennifer Schlott’s 30 point game.
“She’s a very smart player and a very good player,” Owens said of Schlott. “She just outplayed us, basically.”
UNM was unable to take advantage of Utah State’s foul trouble.
Despite three players fouling out of the game for the Aggies, the Lobos only made 18 of the 30 free throw attempts. Utah State only missed four from the charity stripe, going 22-26.
One of the individuals to foul out was Stephanie Bairstow who shared very brief moments on the court with fellow Australian, Josie Greenwood. Stephanie and Josie are sisters of UNM teammates Cameron Bairstow and Hugh Greenwood, respectively.
The Lobos only trailed by seven points in the first half, but dug themselves in a hole the second half and couldn’t stop the Aggies’ offense in the latter part of the game.
Sanchez said she was extremely displeased with her squad’s inability to stop the Aggies from scoring. In the second half, USU shot an astounding 52 percent from the field and only missed one attempt from the free throw line.
“It is frustrating because we know how good we are,” Sanchez said. “We are just not a good defensive team right now.”
With 2:45 remaining in the game, the Lobos trailed by 13 points with little hope in sight until guard Brea Mitchell hit three straight treys for UNM, cutting the Aggies lead to 71-67.
After the teams traded buckets, Schlott turned the ball over with 33 seconds left, but Mitchell gave the ball right back, which essentially ended the game.
Sanchez made clear that she doesn’t blame any individual for a lack of performance.
“They (USU) had too many second-chance points,” Sanchez said. “It all comes down to our defensive play.”