No game is easy to win, even at The Pit. Even though the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team was able to play a near-flawless first-half against the visiting San Diego State Aztecs, basketball is still a game of trends.
And despite a near-comeback from the Aztecs in the second half, which saw them outscore UNM (14-2, 4-1 MW) over the final two quarters, the Lobos turned the tide when it mattered most and sealed their 70-62 victory after scoring the final eight points of the game.
“You’re gonna be tested you’re gonna be tested in basketball and life and all that stuff,” UNM head coach Mike Bradbury said when asked about how he saw his team respond in the final moments of the game. “And you know what, we were tested today and we could've packed it in, and we didn’t. And that’s what good teams have to do.”
From the get-go, Aisia Robertson was ready to play. Both she and Jaisa Nunn combined for the team’s first nine points of the game, which also served as a 9-0 run for UNM to start off against the Aztecs. However, SDSU (6-9, 1-3 MW) was able to get the Lobos’ lead down to just six points late in the first quarter. But UNM found a boost behind two key made 3-pointers down the stretch from -- Madi Washington and Jayla Everett to give them a double-digit lead by the end of the quarter.
With the Lobos leading SDSU 24-11 entering the second quarter, their hot streak from beyond the arc continued as Jaedyn De La Cerda scored UNM’s first points of the frame on a 3-pointer. Then, after SDSU followed suit with a three of its own, Washington nailed two back-to-back 3-pointers for the Lobos, giving them a 33-14 lead just three minutes into the second quarter.
And the scoring didn’t stop for the Lobos either, as they entered the half with a comfortable 42-26 lead. That was due to New Mexico’s hot start shooting the ball, as they were able to shoot 45 percent from the field and make half of its three-point attempts in the first half.
Both Robertson and Washington had combined for 25 points in the frame. While Robertson had success on defense--she had three steals in the first half--Washington was electric from beyond the arc, hitting four of the Lobos’ seven 3-point attempts in the half.
“I thought Madi (Washington) was really good in the first half,” Bradbury said. “She’s had two good offensive games in a row.”
The Aztecs opened up the second half with a 3-pointer and layup courtesy of Naje Murray, and they continued to score on offense while the Lobos, in some ways, were having trouble doing so. SDSU was able to grind UNM’s lead down to 11 points entering the final quarter, as it outscored its opponent 18-13 in the frame. However, UNM had a 55-44 lead going into the fourth.
But the Lobos’ lead didn’t seem to faze the Aztecs entering the fourth quarter, as Sophia Ramos again opened up with a made 3-pointer for the visiting team. That set the tone going forward for SDSU, as it was able to grind UNM’s lead down to just four points--57-53--nearly three minutes into the final quarter. But both teams were sloppy near the midway point, as they turned the ball over and missed key shots down the stretch.
With the Lobos leading 62-55, the Aztecs again found a spark offensively and were able to score seven straight points to tie the game up with just three-and-a-half minutes in regulation.
But trends happen and the Lobos relinquished their lead, as they let the Aztecs tie the game up at 62 points apiece. But UNM didn’t let its guard down and came together when it mattered most-- a 6-0 UNM run capped by an Ahlise Hurst 3-pointer to take a critical 68-62 lead with under two minutes. Murray of SDSU missed her final three shots over the final minute and a half in the game, and the Lobos were able to secure rebounds when it mattered.
SDSU sent UNM to the foul line at the end and it ultimately sealed UNM’s fourth conference victory this season, as the Lobos were able to defeat the Aztecs 70-62 despite a second half in which they struggled to outscore their opponent, SDSU.
In the end, UNM shot 39.7 percent from the field and made 9 of its 24 3-point attempts. The Lobos held SDSU to just 32.9 percent from the field, but that was an increase for the Aztecs after they made just 27 percent of their shots in the first half.
Robertson led the Lobos with 19 points. Five other scored for UNM, too, including Nunn (14), Everett (13), Washington (12), Hurst (9) and De La Cerda (3).
With the tides once again in their favor as they are winners of two straight, the Lobos will now head to Laramie to face Wyoming on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m.
Matthew Narvaiz is a senior writer and sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.