It seems that when the New Mexico women’s basket ball team most needs a score, the Lobos are least able come up with one.
A late seven point-lead wasn’t enough of a cushion for UNM as Colorado State managed to get key buckets down the stretch that UNM could not answer. The 62-57 gut-wrenching loss, which is the Lobos’ fourth-straight defeat, is the second consecutive home game that UNM let slip from its grasp.
“Close doesn’t get it; I couldn’t care less about being close,” head coach Yvonne Sanchez said at The Pit on Saturday. “In order for us to get any respect in the conference, we have to beat teams. It’s just a disappointing loss.”
UNM (7-11, 2-5 Mountain West) had not lost to CSU (14-4, 6-1 MW) at home in nearly 16 years, dating back to Jan. 6, 1998.
Lobo guard Bryce Owens cringes after missing a free throw at The Pit on Saturday night. The women’s basketball team lost at home against Colorado State University 62-57.
“It wasn’t that they didn’t get shots. They just didn’t knock them down,” Sanchez said of her team’s abrupt cold streak. “It wasn’t one player; it wasn’t one person. It’s always a team.”
The Lobos managed to keep the turnovers to a minimum with just eight, far below their average of 16.2 turnovers per contest.
UNM redshirt senior guard Sara Halasz collected 14 boards and dished out five assists, but shot 1 of 12 from the floor for just two points.
“It was just one of those days where everything wasn’t falling my way, and that’s going to happen,” Halasz said. “I just focused on other things that could help my team.”
In the first half, the Lobos struggled to keep pace with the Rams as they jumped out to a nine point lead with 11:18 remaining in the first half. It did not help that the Lobos’ leading scorer, redshirt junior guard Antiesha Brown, was called to the bench after recording two fouls in less than two minutes.
Despite Brown playing just six minutes in the entire first half, UNM was able to mount a solid comeback heading into the locker room at halftime, trailing 30-27.
The Rams rode their 5’3” point guard, AJ Newton, who had a game-high 24 points on 8 of 14 attempts, the entire game. The only time it appeared that UNM could contain Newton was when Brown was guarding the smallest individual on the court.
“We knew what she could do already. We had to make some adjustments once she was hitting threes,” Brown said. “She wasn’t necessarily driving us crazy, but we needed to make adjustments.”
In a game that featured five lead changes, with four occurring in the second half, the Lobos’ hard-fought battle seemed to come up short when the game mattered most.
After a layup from CSU, sophomore forward Khadijah Shumpert had a bigtime layup that sparked an eight-point run by the Lobos, putting them up 50-44 with 9:03 to play. This eventually led to the Lobos’ largest lead of the game: 52-45, with 6:21 to play.
At this point, things began to crumble for UNM. The Lobos’ transition defense began to look sloppy as CSU gained momentum. In the final nine minutes of the game, UNM only scored one time from the field, a late Shumpert layup.
CSU took advantage of the suddenly absent Lobo offense as the Rams’ Gritt Ryder hit a crowd silencing 3-pointer, putting the Rams up 57-56 with 38 seconds to play in the game.
Owens was unable to connect with an open trey followed by another miss from redshirt senior Deeva Vaughn that would have tied the game up at 60. CSU snatched the Vaughn miss and snuck out of Albuquerque with a victory.
“We had a number of opportunities…we took good shots but just didn’t hit them,” Sanchez said. “I am not going to fault them for that … I want them taking those shots.”