After a sloppy first half, the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team cruised to an 83-61 victory over UC Irvine in the team’s second game of the Thanksgiving tournament at Dreamstyle Arena.
In the first half, the Lobos (6-0) commuted 12 turnovers, with seven of those coming from senior guard Cherise Beynon. The team’s season average, though, was only 9.8 per game, so to see them commit that much in the frame alone wasn’t a pretty sight.
Head coach Mike Bradbury took the blame for Beynon’s 11 total turnovers in the game, saying that a lot of them were his fault since he put his senior guard in bad positions.
“We were sloppy with the ball,” he said. “Some poor decisions. A lot of it was my fault, I put (Cherise) in some bad spots. Going into the game plan, we thought we could exploit some things and they took them away, so I’m gonna say at least half of those I take responsibility for.”
In total, the Lobos committed 22 turnovers — a season high — to UC Irvine’s 18, though UNM capitalized on those turnovers more than their opponent, scoring 20 of their 83 points in those instances, while the Anteaters scored 14 points off of turnovers.
Beynon, who has been the Lobos’ top scorer this season, was held to just five points in the game. But that didn’t matter much, as UNM got help from the bench as well as from some of their starters, too.
Freshman guard Madi Washington, who came off of the bench, scored a game high 21 points, while junior post Jaisa Nunn and senior guard Tesha Buck went for 17 points apiece.
Buck, though, was deadly from range. She went 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and, in one case, was even fouled on a 3-point attempt, in which she nailed all three free throws.
Nunn, however, had a double-double. She brought down a career-high 18 rebounds, which led all players, with seven of those coming on offense.
“I felt pretty good,” Nunn said of her performance.
The Lobos outrebounded the Anteaters (2-4) 51-31 in the game, and Bradbury was leased with that aspect of his team’s performance.
“It was nice to be able to have a plus side in rebounding. That hadn’t happened to us a whole lot this year,” Bradbury said.
After a sluggish first quarter start, with the Lobos and UC Irvine tied at 15 apiece, UNM started to pick up its game in the second quarter and those after.
Nearly two minutes into the second quarter, the Lobos found themselves up by six points on a Washington layup. But UC Irvine, until the last couple of minutes before the half, didn’t shy away. The team kept the game within striking distance with the help of sophomore guard Lauren Saiki, who scored 13 points in the game.
UNM managed to get the score up to 10 points before the half, but UC Irvine made a last-second layup to trim the lead to only eight, 41-33, entering halftime.
The third quarter itself was slow, but both Nunn and Washington managed to score four points each in the frame.
The Lobos entered the fourth quarter with a 12 point lead — and they never looked back. 14 of the Lobos’ 28 fourth quarter points came by way of free throws. In the frame, three of UC Irvine’s players fouled out, which set up all of those attempts.
As a team, UNM made 25 of its 30 free throws in the game.
In terms of scoring — besides Washington, Buck and Nunn — senior guard Alex Lapeyrolerie had another impressive performance. She had 11 points in the game, with two of her three shots coming from beyond the arc.
For UC Irvine, junior guard Andee Ritter scored a team high 14 points. She was most deadly from range, as three of her four made shots came from the 3.
Up next for the Lobos is their tournament finale against Illinois on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Illinois, who played UC Irvine on Friday and Wichita State on Saturday, won both of their games in the tournament so far.
Matthew Narvaiz is a senior sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s and women’s basketball and baseball. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.