Colorado Springs, Colo. — The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team(13-1, 1-0 MW) overcame a slow start to blow out the Air Force Falcons (0-12, 0-1 MW) 88-59 thanks to an 18 point and nine rebound performance from Jaisa Nunn in the conference opener.
In the first quarter, the play was much more even than the teams' records suggested. Nunn scored the first two of the Lobos’ baskets, and it looked like she would be able to take advantage of her size advantage over the Air Force defenders. However, the Falcons were able to adapt and force the Lobos to look to another option, as they were able to control the tempo.
Able to play their style, AFA fed Kaelin Immel the ball, and as a result she led all scorers after one quarter with six points.
“I thought mentally we were ready to play, and that’s something you worry about with a team that’s 0-11,” head coach Mike Bradbury said. “I thought from a mentality standpoint that we were ready to play this game. Once we got through the first quarter I thought we played really well. We stayed pretty vanilla there in the first quarter but once we changed and started trapping a lot more in the second quarter.”
Madi Washington stepped up in a big way behind the 3-pointer off the bench for the Lobos and allowed them to keep the game within three points despite only two points from Cherise Benyon. It was a Washington 3-pointer that gave the Lobos an 18-17 lead as time expired in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Lobos were able to get their offense going and play the game at their speed. It didn’t take long for New Mexico to open up the floor and build a lead behind 37.5 percent 3-point shooting and stifling defense that held Air Force scoreless for almost three minutes. Nunn and Washington lead the Lobos’ attack with eight points each, for the Falcons, half of their first half offense came from Immel, who had 13 points at the break.
At the half, the Lobos were up 37-26.
New Mexico continued to control the game in the third quarter and spent the 10 minutes building their 11-point lead into a 21-point lead at the end of the quarter that reached 26 at one time. Nunn lead the way with 10 points in six minutes and change. The starters exited with 3:51 to play in the quarter as UNM used its depth to maintain its lead.
At the end of the quarter, it was 66-45 New Mexico. Getting the ball to Nunn, who had a 3-inch advantage over the tallest Air Force player, was a big part of the Lobos’ game plan.
“We wanted to throw it inside (to Nunn), but we always do,” Bradbury said. “She played really well, but the biggest thing was we got a lot of kids a lot of minutes and that was good, because we have a quick turnaround now.”
Benyon, who finished with seven points, said that with Nunn being the biggest player on the floor, the team wanted to get the ball to her as much as possible, but if the ball wasn’t with Nunn, they could kick out to a scorer on the wing for a shot or a drive.
The final quarter of the game was nothing more than a chance for the Lobos to empty their bench and give some of their key players a break. Even with the players from the end of the bench in for most of the final quarter, UNM built its lead to 29 and won 88-59. Nunn led the Lobos with 18 points and nine rebounds, and Alex Lapeyrolerie added another 16.
Cameron Goeldner is a freelance sports reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer but also contributes content for baseball, basketball, football and track and field. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @goeldfinger.