The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team won their first official game against Lamar University 71-54 on Tuesday at The Pit.
The Lobos led the entire game, but Lamar was able to keep the score close in the first half largely due to two quick fouls on forward Shaiquel McGruder that limited her minutes and uncharacteristically poor shooting from guard Jaedyn De La Cerda, who was 0-7 in the first half. However, both McGruder and De La Cerda came alive in the second half, particularly in the third quarter where they were able to outscore Lamar 18-9 by themselves.
The opponents tried to punish UNM by feeding Lamar’s center Akasha Davis, who was able to score 12 points, but her poor free throw shooting (2-8) left her unable to punish the Lobos for fouling her. UNM was able to counter Lamar’s aggressive attempts to disrupt their offense by making simple and frequent back cuts that led to wide open shots in the paint, where UNM scored 53.5% of their points.
UNM was led in scoring by their four core upperclassmen: forwards McGruder and Antonia Anderson scored 15 and 16 points, respectively, and guards De La Cerda and LaTora Duff scored 15 and 10 points, respectively. Anderson had a steady night, scoring five points in the first quarter, four in the second quarter and seven in the fourth quarter. Duff was solid at point guard, dishing out nine assists while only committing one turnover.
Guards Kath van Bennekom and Aniyah Augmon provided big boosts off the bench, particularly on the boards, grabbing three offensive rebounds and six defensive rebounds, respectively. Van Bennekom did a nice job getting easy shots while running to the basket with her hand up in the open court and occupying the defense, allowing her teammates to get open shots. Augmon played a good all-around game, shooting 3-3 and getting three steals.
The Lobos displayed their typical versatility across all positions. They rarely played less than four shooters at a time. The Lobos also capitalized on Lamar’s turnovers, scoring 20 points off of them. They turned the ball over 15 times, one more than the number of assists they managed to get. The low number of assists was poor, especially compared to last season, when the Lobos ranked sixth in the nation in assist-turnover ratio.
After the game, Anderson said consistency is her biggest goal for this season and that scoring throughout the game was a sign of that. She also said it usually takes a little while to get going in the first game of a season.
“Just seeing the first shot go in is a good thing and then after that I usually lean on my defense,” Anderson said. “If I’m having a good defensive night, I’m going to have a good offensive night.”
Head coach Mike Bradbury said he was hoping De La Cerda would be able to turn her offensive struggles around throughout the first half because the team needs her to play well.
“We’re not going to be very good if she’s not going to be pretty good,” Bradbury said. “We can’t play without her … She just needed to see one go in, and we got her a really easy six-footer on an inbounds play underneath, she got to see that one go in and then she made two or three in a row after that.”
Bradbury said he was looking forward to watching film of the game to truly assess how well his team executed their prepared game plan. This, he said, will help them strategize for their next game against Northern New Mexico College on Friday, Nov. 12 at The Pit.
Matthew Salcido is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @baggyeyedguy