The UNM women's basketball team could not overcome 27 turnovers and poor free-throw shooting in the final minute of its 56-53 road loss to San Diego State University.
The loss drops the Lobos to 5-4 in Mountain West Conference play and 14-9 overall, while the Aztecs improved to 4-6 in conference play and 12-11 overall.
"They took us down to the wire, and they beat us," UNM head coach Don Flanagan said during his post-game radio show. "Close games on the road are the ones you have to win. When you have 27 turnovers on the road, you will lose 99 percent of the time. I've just never seen anything seen anything like this, where a team just doesn't take care of the ball."
UNM forward Miranda Sanchez led the Lobos with 16 points, including four 3-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds, but it was her performance late in the game that hurt the Lobos.
San Diego State opened the second half with a seven-point run, but UNM matched the Aztecs' intensity and went on an eight-point run. The Lobos were ahead 51-50 with 1:12 remaining in the game. Guard Molly McKinnon's baseline layup after a UNM timeout pushed the lead to 53-50 with one minute remaining.
The Lobos were on a six-point run for 3:55 until San Diego State guard Jamey Cox, who was six-of-eight on the night, hit a 3-pointer and tied the game at 53 with 50 seconds remaining.
On the next possession, UNM fed the ball to center Jordan Adams, who missed a layup. The Aztecs rebounded the ball and quickly pushed it up the court, where Ortiz hit a layup, pushing San Diego State ahead 55-53.
The Lobos called a timeout with 18 seconds remaining, but point guard Nikki Heckcroth and McKinnon were clearly not on the same page following the break. Heckcroth threw the ball in McKinnon's direction while McKinnon was cutting to the basket and the ball rolled out of bounds untouched.
UNM fouled Cox on the next play. She missed her first free throw, allowing Adams to rebound the ball. The Lobos got the ball to Sanchez, who was fouled while missing a layup with four seconds remaining.
Sanchez, an 88 percent free-throw shooter, uncharacteristically missed the first attempt. She tried to intentionally miss the second one and it went in, but she was called for a lane violation for stepping over the line before the ball left her hands so it didn't count.
"The missed free throws in the final minute didn't cost us the game, it was the turnovers that killed us," Flanagan said.
The Lobos fouled San Diego State center Atim Otii, who hit one of two free throws, but UNM had just 3.4 seconds to bring the back down the floor and erase a 3-point deficit. McKinnon inbounded the ball for UNM, but her baseball pass was intercepted and time expired.
Get content from The Daily Lobo delivered to your inbox
UNM now turns its attention to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas for a Saturday matchup. UNLV is 14-7 in the season and 4-5 in the Mountain West Conference, having lost two straight conference games and three of its four overall.
UNM won the teams' last meeting, 79-51 in The Pit Jan. 18.
"This team can beat UNLV, we just have to play with more intensity, focus on taking better care of the ball and playing better under pressure," Flanagan said.