The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team followed up last Thursday’s 82-80 win over Fresno State with a dud, splitting the two-game series with Saturday’s 91-69 loss. Third in the Mountain West Conference behind Colorado State and Fresno State, the team is now 7-2 on the season.
The former matchup was a back and forth affair, coming down to the game’s final possession when junior forward Shaiquel McGruder drained the go-ahead basket with less than three seconds remaining. A steal by junior guard Ahlise Hurst on the ensuing inbound sealed the Lobos’ win.
“That was our biggest mismatch on the floor, we felt, and that was something we put in here in all this time we’ve had off,” head coach Mike Bradbury said of McGruder’s clutch performance.
A balanced Lobo attack left five players in double figures, led by senior guard Antonia Anderson’s 16-point outing.
Prior to Thursday’s tilt, the Lobos had been on an extended break following the cancellation of a two-game slate with San José State. Bradbury said he felt the extra time off helped the team and “put some wrinkles in that we haven’t had in.”
“Tonight, we had to use our base defense in the first half. We used a different one in the third quarter, used a different one in the fourth quarter and we saved the last one we had for the last play of the game,” Bradbury said.
Saturday’s game matched stride with Thursday’s contest through three quarters, with neither team able to pull away. However, a blistering Fresno State fourth quarter saw them outpace the Lobos 26-12, ensuring a comfortable victory for the 9-6 Bulldogs.
After the loss, Bradbury lamented his team’s performance down the stretch.
“It was a lot different today and wasn’t near as much fun,” Bradbury said. “What was a really competitive game for 31 minutes kind of got away from us in the last eight minutes. Give them credit, they kept us from getting the ball in the middle, and it hurt us today.”
There was a difference in the amount of turnovers in the second half compared to the first. When asked about the giveaways, Bradbury explained what he saw out there from the Bulldogs.
“They really committed to keeping the ball out of the middle where we were beating them up pretty good with AT (Antonia Anderson) the other day,” Bradbury said.
“Give them credit. They made a decision, and it worked,” he continued. “We couldn’t make a shot, and that was our offensive problems.”
The Lobos’ next scheduled two-game series is against San Diego State, which will take place on Feb. 3 and wrap up on Feb 5.
Jesus Mata is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JesusMataJr99