The New Mexico women’s basketball team defeated Utah State 74-56 on Wednesday, thanks to scoring from the bench and a resurgent second half in which the Lobos dominated the Aggies in terms of rebounds.
Both Jaedyn De La Cerda and Antonia Anderson contributed 14 and 13 points each off the bench, as UNM outscored the Aggies 36-22 in the second half.
“The last 13 minutes we really played,” UNM head coach Mike Bradbury said. “Our response was really, really good. And I think that made a difference.”
UNM (21-4, 11-3 MW) looked like it was going to get things going early, as it received the tip and Jaisa Nunn completed an and-one for the first bucket of the game. But after UNM garnered a 5-0 lead after an Aisia Robertson layup, the Aggies reeled off 10 straight points. Later in the frame, though, De La Cerda hit two 3-pointers in a row for the Lobos, which gave them an 18-16 lead. However, Utah State (11-14, 6-8 MW) put together five points shortly after, while UNM was held scoreless, and held a 21-18 lead going into the second quarter.
Both teams battled early on at the start of the second, but De La Cerda remained a key factor when the Lobos needed it most. The sophomore guard made a layup to put UNM up 23-22 with under seven minutes before the half, and her on-her-toes style of play transferred over to Robertson, who then scored four of the next five UNM points.
The score remained close much of the second quarter, as Utah State took advantage of New Mexico’s shoddy defense. But Ahlise Hurst came alive towards the end of the quarter for the Lobos, making a 3-pointer to give her team a two-possession lead. The Lobos entered the locker room at the half with a 38-34 lead.
UNM may have had the lead, but Utah State created problems on the boards, collecting 10 of its 24 rebounds on the offensive side. The Aggies also outrebounded UNM in the first half 24-17, something Anderson said the team had to change in the second half.
“Rebounding in the first half was terrible,” she said. “So the second half, we really started boxing people out, getting offensive rebounds.”
The Lobos got their posts going early in the fourth, as Anderson and Jaisa Nunn scored the first six points of the frame. But it was a Jayla Everett layup that gave UNM its first double-digit leads of the game, 63-52, with under seven minutes remaining. Then Nunn hit a 3-pointer on an assist from Robertson, further extending UNM’s lead.
New Mexico’s lead remained comfortable for the rest of the fourth quarter, following a collection of free throws while milking the clock and making shots to keep the distance. Anderson, notably, made a layup and was fouled in the process. Her free throw put the Lobos up 72-52, a 20-point lead late in the fourth with game finishing soon after.
By the end of the game, the Lobos fixed their rebounding efforts and outrebounded the Aggies 42-38.
Bradbury said in the post-game press conference that when the response is positive in adverse times, his team will win. De La Cerda had an answer for that.
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“It’s tough, but we’re one unit so we know how to respond very well,” De La Cerda said.
The Lobos will now face San Jose State on Feb. 27 at home.