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Utah rallies late, stalling a Lobo upset on the road

Lauren Beckman finished with 16 points and nine rebounds and reserve guard Erin Gibbons sparked a decisive second-half run as No. 13 University of Utah rallied to beat UNM 64-59 on Saturday.

The Utes (25-2, 14-0) went unbeaten in the Mountain West, the first time in 18 seasons under coach Elaine Elliott that Utah has finished with a perfect conference record.

The Lobos (17-11, 8-6) almost spoiled the celebration. The Lobos held Utah to 21 percent shooting in the first half and built a 44-38 lead with 9:28 remaining in the second.

Gibbons saved the Utes by scoring nine straight points, the last coming on a 3-pointer that ignited a 16-0 run and helped Utah turn a 51-44 deficit into a 60-51 lead.

During the surge, Beckman scored eight straight points and New Mexico went scoreless for a span of 5:50.

"They just have a really good defensive team," head coach Don Flanagan said in a post-game radio interview. "They're hard to score on. They never give you anything easy."

Utah seniors Amy Ewert and Kristina Andersen, playing their final regular season game, finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively. The Utes are the top-seeded team for next week's league tournament.

The Lobos finished tied with Brigham Young University for third place, but won a coin-flip to determine the third seed in the Mountain West Conference tournament. UNM will play sixth-seeded San Diego State University Wednesday at 1 p.m. to kick off the tournament.

UNM battled back from a 20-13 first-half deficit to come within 20-17 at the half in a defense-dominated first half. Both teams were frigid from the field. Utah hit only six of its 28 shots for 21.4 percent shooting and UNM did worse, hitting only four of 22 shots, good enough for 18.2 percent shooting.

"Offensively in the first half, we did not play well," Flanagan said. "I thought in the second half, if we could play pretty good offense, then we had a chance to win the game."

The Lobos continued their run, cutting the lead to 20-19 before Ute center Laura Beckman hit a jumper to halt a seven-minute scoring drought.

Down 27-26, UNM took control in the early part of the second half with an 8-0 run that started with senior forward Miranda Sanchez's three with 17:01 left. Utah responded with an 8-2 run to retake the lead at 37-36, but UNM answered immediately with another 8-0 run.

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UNM split the season series with the Aztecs, with the home team winning both games. The Feb. 16 game in San Diego was one that got away from UNM, which held a three-point lead with a minute to go and then blew a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds.

Sanchez, the team's best free-throw shooter, missed two free throws with four seconds left in the game, including one she made but was disallowed because she stepped over the free-throw line.

Jordan Adams led New Mexico with 15 points and seven rebounds. Adams also made a piece of history Saturday by becoming the school's all-time leading shot-blocker, swatting away five shots to increase her career total to 145. She broke Yvonne McKinnon's record of 144, set in 105 games from 1981-1985.

Sanchez, the only other scorer in double digits, had 12 points and was second to Adams with five rebounds.

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