The University of New Mexico women’s basketball beat San Diego State University 75-72 on Sunday, Jan. 9 at The Pit. With this win, UNM has taken the top spot in the Mountain West conference and remains undefeated in conference play 4-0.
SDSU’s Kamaria Gipson punished UNM on the boards early in the game, grabbing four offensive rebounds in the first four minutes and getting to the line twice. UNM didn’t continue their hot shooting from their game against Utah State last Thursday; they shot only 3-13 in the first five minutes of the game. It was their good fortune that SDSU shot an even worse 1-10 during the same period.
SDSU did a very good job covering the roller in UNM’s pick-and-rolls, and star forward Antonia Anderson had to leave the game after picking up two quick fouls in the first three minutes. UNM managed to score off of the fastbreak over the second five minutes of the first quarter, which helped them finish the quarter ahead 17-14. LaTascya Duff was the most efficient player of the quarter for the Lobos, scoring six points.
SDSU continued to throw skip passes to far corner shooters who managed to hit threes before the Lobos defense could rotate to them. Jaedyn De La Cerda shot 2-4 from the field and 1-1 from the free throw line in the second quarter to finish with six points. UNM continued their shooting struggles as a team from the field (3-13).
The Lobos were burned in the first half by SDSU guard Asia Avinger who dished out five assists and six rebounds. Sharpshooter Mercedes Staples was on the receiving end of three of those assists and shot 4-5 from the field and 2-2 from three.
UNM was able to stay with SDSU by getting to the line more, where they shot 7-11, and scored 11 fastbreak points. However, SDSU star Sophia Ramos was able to put her team up 31-29 with a last-second midrange shot off the dribble, though many Pit fans were convinced she pushed off.
UNM’s two bigs, Anderson and Shaiquel McGruder, came out aggressive in the second half. UNM’s ball handlers did a much better job of finding McGruder — who scored six in the third quarter — on rolls to the basket than in the first half. Anderson scored seven points off of a plethora of drives and dives. After the game, De La Cerda explained what head coach Mike Bradbury had told his players at halftime about getting the ball down low.
“The coaches told us to attack the hedge, and the roller (would) always (be) open,” De La Cerda said. “It was open the first half, but sometimes we don’t always see it.”
Anderson picked up her third foul on a reach-in with 4:38 left in the quarter, but Bradbury elected to leave her in the game. Anderson managed to keep from fouling for the rest of the quarter, but UNM fouled seven times as a team in the third.
UNM’s five starters all played the whole third quarter and managed to finish the quarter 51-50.
Despite the heavy minutes they had played so far, the UNM starters began the fourth quarter with a higher energy level than they had played with in any of the earlier quarters. In the first three minutes of the quarter, the Lobos were a perfect 6-6 from the field, 2-2 from three and 1-1 from the line, and UNM extended their lead to 65-55. SDSU was forced to call a timeout.
UNM cooled off slightly after the break (1-3 on their next three shots), but their far bigger problem was SDSU’s offensive rebounding. SDSU then began pressuring UNM full court with a 2-1-2 defense.
UNM was up 73-63 with one minute left, and SDSU didn’t try to foul. SDSU managed to cut the Lobos’ lead to 73-67 with 14 seconds left, and SDSU gained possession after a UNM fumble out of bounds. SDSU lobbed the ball over UNM’s heads in a good inbounds play following a timeout, making the score 73-69.
Bradbury decided to call a timeout to talk things over with 12 seconds left. UNM was unable to get the ball inbounds, prompting another timeout from Bradbury. This time UNM was able to get the ball to Duff, who was fouled and went to shoot bonus free throws. She made both, but SDSU’s Mallory Adams responded with a three.
UNM called their last timeout with 2.7 seconds left, up 75-72. They managed to get the ball inbounds and take a win, remaining undefeated in conference play 4-0.
UNM’s biggest problem continues to be rebounding, and they lost this battle on the offensive boards 24-8. SDSU managed to score 16 second-chance points to UNM’s one, and they also managed to play much deeper into their bench, though UNM’s starting five should be expected to play the majority of minutes for the rest of the season.
UNM will have a bit of a break before heading out to play at the University of Wyoming on Thursday, Jan. 13.
Matthew Salcido is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @baggyeyedguy