The Lobo women's basketball team edged out in-state rival New Mexico State in a close, but high-scoring affair on Saturday.
New Mexico protected its undefeated record, moving to 9-0 and matching the program's best start to a season after hanging on for a 101-93 victory.
The Lobos have not been shy shooting the 3-pointer this season, and Saturday was no different. The team shot lights out from beyond the arc, connecting on 15-for-22 from downtown.
Perhaps none were bigger than the deep one launched by senior guard Cherise Beynon with 1:21 to play, sinking a 30-footer with the shot clock dwindling down to extend the Lobo lead to 97-91.
"I was having a good shooting night so I was confident it could go in, but I was more just trying to get it to hit the rim so we didn't have a turnover," Beynon said in a release. "I was hoping someone could get the rebound, but it went in. But we all shot the ball well today."
Beynon and company did shoot the ball well. The guard followed a Jaisa Nunn layup with a pair of 3-pointers to jump out to an 8-0 Lobo lead. The Aggies fought back as Monique Mills and Gia Pack found the basket after each missed on their first two attempts. The duo led a charge that resulted in NMSU coming all the way back to tie the game at 13-13.
UNM got fire, making seven of its next nine shots to bust the game wide open, seizing a 32-17 lead with just over two minutes left in the first quarter. But NMSU would not go away, battling back again to score nine straight to slice into the lead and trail by just three points at the end of the period, 32-29.
The run continued into the second quarter and a 3-pointer by Tonishia Childress of NMSU gave the Aggies their first lead at 34-32 at the 8:43 mark. New Mexico State extended its lead to four later in the frame, but the Lobos closed strong scoring seven straight points to reclaim the lead, despite missing some free throws toward the half.
New Mexico enjoyed a 52-48 edge at the break as both teams shot the ball exceptionally well. Five players had already scored in double-figures—three for the Aggies and two for the Lobos—as Beynon led all scorers with 18 first-half points.
The teams continued the furious pace in the second half, with both squads making runs in the third quarter. The period saw four lead changes, but the Lobos got the better end of things in the end and extended the lead to eight, with the score 77-69 entering the final quarter.
In the fourth, the Aggies continued to chip away at the Lobo lead and pulled to within one point with 5:23 to play after Mills buried a 3-pointer. After UNM's Alex Lapeyrolerie split a pair of free throws, NMSU took a brief 87-86 lead on the ensuing possession after sinking another long ball.
But Tesha Buck put the Lobos right back on top, answering with a long-range shot off her own to make it 89-87. The teams traded baskets, but UNM started to pull away after finishing in the paint on consecutive drives to the rim.
New Mexico was nursing a three point lead as the score got stuck at 94-91 for several minutes, but got a huge boost when Beynon connected on her deep 3-pointer.
UNM head coach Mike Bradbury said the team needed contributions from everybody. He said he was proud of the players on the team, but singled out that play as turning point.
"We ran the clock down there and they stuffed our play on the screen and then Cherise (Beynon) makes a 30-foot fade away at the buzzer," he said in a release."That took the lead from three to six and that was about the game there...It's nice having the best player on the court."
And after the Aggies failed to score on the other end, the Lobos appeared to be in good shape. NMSU was able to force a steal and convert a layup at the other end, but was forced to foul and watch the Lobos sink their free throws—and any chance for a comeback.
New Mexico made four consecutive free throws down the stretch as Aggie 3-point attempts failed to find the mark to grind out the 101-93 victory.
Beyonon ended with a season-high 30 points, going 6-for-8 for deep and collecting nine rebounds to lead a quintet of Lobos who finished in double-digits.
N'Dea Flye and Buck each knocked down four 3-pointers, chipping in 25 points and 14 points, respectively. While Nunn and Lapeyrolerie rounded out the top scorers for UNM.
Pack had a game-high 33 points for NMSU, but didn't get enough from the supporting cast outside of Brooke Salas, who notched 20 points and Zaire Williams, who finished with 19.
Both teams shot 50 percent or better from the floor, though UNM seemed to take better advantage off turnovers. The Lobos held a slight advantage, 21-13, in that category. Both schools also struggled from the free throw line, but the Lobos knocked them down when it counted most to preserve the win.
The Lobos will be back in action on Wednesday, Dec. 6 when they host Texas Tech at Dreamstyle Arena at 7 p.m. A New Mexico victory could set a new program record for most consecutive wins to start the regular season.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball, football and tennis. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.