California hasn't been kind to the University of New Mexico women's basketball lately, as the team just dropped two of three games there this month.
New Mexico (20-4, 10-3 MW) dropped a close one, 61-59, to San Diego State on Feb. 6, which snapped a six-game winning streak. And though the Lobos got back on track with a win over San Jose State on Wednesday, they faded Saturday in the second half in a 77-70 loss at Fresno State.
Candice White led a balanced scoring attack for the Bulldogs, scoring the first bucket of the game on her way to a team-high 18 points.
She made a 3-pointer just 26 seconds into the game to give her squad an early lead and the Bulldogs protected it for about halfway through the first quarter, but the Lobos wrestled it away.
UNM point guard Aisia Robertson made the first three Lobo baskets and dished out an assist to senior forward Jaisa Nunn to put New Mexico on top for the first time at the 5:29 mark, seizing a 10-9 advantage.
The teams traded leads over the course of the next several minutes, but Jaedyn de la Cerda drilled a 3-pointer in the waning seconds to boost UNM's margin to 21-17 after the first period.
Fresno State briefly tied the game with a White jumper in the opening minute, but New Mexico reestablished control and ran its lead up to as many as 10 when Jayla Everett stepped to the line and sank a pair of free throws to put UNM up 38-28 with 17 second left in the half.
But the Bulldogs were able to cut into that lead a little bit, as Gabby Standifer got a 3-ball to go drop just before the end of the second quarter.
New Mexico has shown an inability to protect leads at times throughout the season, and that trend continued again on Saturday as Fresno State needed less than seven minutes to erase the first-half deficit. But — as has often been the case — the Lobos responded to the run by answering with one of its own.
After Fresno State tied the ball game at 46-46 with 3:46 left in the third period, UNM extended its lead to eight by feeding Nunn in the post and getting another deep one from de la Cerda late — the only two made 3's for UNM on the day. And the Lobos entered the final frame up 57-49.
Unfortunately for New Mexico, that was not the only run it would be asked to endure. The Bulldogs were still down by seven points after Robertson stuck a jumper with 6:50 to play in the game, but dominated those final minutes — outscoring the Lobos 21-7.
Aly Gamez, Bree Delaney and Maddi Utti all joined White in piecing together the stretch run — putting five different Bulldogs in double digits for the game. Gamez wound up with 15, while Breanna Knishka went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc to tally 12, Delaney chipped in 11 and Utti registered 10.
Nunn had a game-high 22, and got some key contributions from Robertson and Antonia Anderson, but the differential at the 3-point line was too much too overcome.
Fresno State was successful on 11 of its 32 attempts from beyond the arc, while New Mexico was just 2-of-19.
New Mexico will try to right the ship when it returns home to host Utah State on Wednesday, Feb 20. at 7 p.m. in the first of a two-game home stand.