The University of New Mexico Women’s Basketball team beat the Hartford Hawks on Sunday, 72-65, in a close game that had no business being that way.
The Lobos lead by as many as 20 with less than three minutes left in the third, and by 17 at the start of the final quarter of play against a Hartford team that they seemed to have figured out, with an increase in defense pressure from UNM forcing six Hawks turnovers in the third quarter, and the Hartford press, which had given the Lobos some trouble early on, was no longer very effective.
That all changed in the fourth quarter, as Hartford changed the rotation on their press, which, combined with shots beginning to fall for guard Lindsey Abed who had been held scoreless in the first three quarters, and suddenly the Lobos were in a dogfight.
“We weren’t following the game plan scouting-wise, we stopped guarding them,” head coach Mike Bradbury said of the Lobos struggles in the fourth. “We didn’t rebound it as well, we turned it over. We didn’t do anything well.”
With things not going well offensively, the Lobos bright spot was a familiar one — Jaisa Nunn. Nunn did all of the scoring for the Lobos in the final eight minutes of the game, scoring the team’s final ten points and finishing with 32 points and 11 rebounds.
Nunn said that the reason for Hartford’s rally was due to a lack of effort from the team, and said that they stopped playing, which they can’t do in order to close out games and as the season moves along. She gave most of the credit for her big night to her teammates, especially Aisia Robertson and Jayla Everett for feeding her the ball underneath.
Bradbury said that when the offense ran correctly, the ball ended up in Nunn’s hands. When it didn’t, the Lobos turned the ball over. Turnovers, which have plagued the Lobos all year, were a big issues again. UNM turned the ball over 21 times, with Robertson responsible for nine of those. Bradbury credited the Hawks’ defense with being the driving force behind that, not errors from his players.
“I think Hartford did a great job defensively,” Bradbury said. “They continually changed their press and I think they played harder than us, that’s why they were able to get back in it a little bit there in the fourth quarter.”
Things were close early in the game as the Lobos struggled with turnovers from the start. Antonia Anderson had three turnovers in the first quarter, with all three coming as the result of errant passes. Nunn set the tone for the afternoon that was in front of her right away, starting the scoring for UNM and recording five points in the first ten minutes. The Lobos held a slim 18-17 lead after one.
In the second quarter, the Lobos seemed to figure things out a little bit on both ends of the floor and started to gain some separation from the Hawks thanks to a 10-2 run over the course of 2:35 in the middle of the quarter that was due primarily to success at the foul line, as seven of the points came from the stripe. The run was capped off by a technical foul being issued to Hartford coach Kim McNeil after a series of calls she disagreed with led to her being restrained by an assistant.
In the third, the Lobos executed the way that Robertson feels they should. She said that the quarter was an example of how high the ceiling for the team is this season, as they built a their lead.
Nike McClure also provided valuable minutes for the Lobos in the paint, coming down with 11 total rebounds and eight off the offensive glass. She also had four points and two assists, as well as bringing things to the team that don’t show up on the stats sheet.
“She provides energy and effort and she plays extremely hard,” Bradbury said of McClure. “She was really good defensively and gave us a ton of offensive rebounds. What she gives us is very important.”
Cameron Goeldner is a senior reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer, women’s basketball, softball and the Albuquerque Isotopes, but also contributes content for all other sports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Goeldfinger.