The UNLV Rebels are one of only two teams in college basketball this year to come away with a win over the New Mexico Lobos, and they almost doubled up on their win in Las Vegas two weeks ago, but Katie Powell was unable to get a shot off for the Rebels down three in overtime, and the Lobos escaped with an 80-78 win in overtime.
“This is UNLV. They’re hard for us to play against, hard for anybody to play against,” head coach Mike Bradbury said. “It’s hard to score against them, I thought we executed really well for the most part, and really good in overtime.”
With the win, the Lobos move to 16-2 (6-1 MW) and drop the Rebels to 5-12 (3-3 MW) on the season. The Lobos retain their tie for second place with Utah State, one game behind conference leaders Boise State.
UNLV got off to a hot start, taking a 7-0 lead before the Lobos were able to get on the board with a free throw from Jaisa Nunn nearly three minutes into the game. From there, the tide of the game swung dramatically in the Lobos favor, as Aisia Robertson was fouled on the following possession, which was followed by a technical foul called on UNLV head coach Kathy Olivier. After two made free throws and a bucket on the ensuing possession, suddenly the Lobos were only down by three.
From there, the Lobos overtook UNLV and ended the first quarter with a 19-13 lead. The seconds started out with more of the same, as UNM built a 12 point lead before UNLV answered back. Nikki Wheatley led the way for the Rebels throughout the first half, finishing with 12 points and leading the charge that got the game back within four by halftime.
The second half followed a similar script, with the Lobos building out a lead that reached 15 in the third quarter thanks to strong play from Nunn, who finished the game with 26 points and 12 rebounds. She became the third player in program history to score 1000 career points and record 800 career rebounds. UNLV came storming right back though, as Powell, who finished the first half with two points, scored seven in the third quarter alone to cut the lead back to single digits before the Lobos got it to 11 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth, the Lobos watched their lead evaporate as Powell came on even stronger, pairing with Wheatley to form a two-headed attack that tied the game up at 66. A field goal from Antonia Anderson, followed by one made free throw from Ahlise Hurst gave the Lobos a three point lead with 28 seconds to play. After a missed three from UNLV, Powell fouled Nunn under the hoop and gave her the opportunity to ice the game, but she missed both free throws on a night when she had shot 7-of-8 from the line prior to the foul. After the Rebels grabbed the rebound, Powell hustled down the floor and drained a three point shot with 3.3 seconds to play and tied the game up.
Robertson wasn’t able to get a good look on the other end and the game went to overtime. With less than a minute left in overtime, Robertson got the Lobos another three point lead but once again it was erased, this time on a three by Cibola High School graduate Kavionnia Brown. After the Lobos played for the last shot following a timeout, Jaisa Nunn made her second opportunity to end the game count, hitting a layup underneath and drawing the foul on Brown. She sunk the and-one attempt and the Lobos prevented Powell from getting off a shot before time expired to secure the 80-77 win.
UNM hits the road on Saturday, Jan. 26 to take on the Utah State Aggies in Logan in a battle for sole possession of second place in the conference. That game will tip off at 2 p.m.
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.