The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team beat Colorado State University 81-73 Wednesday, Feb. 2 at The Pit. UNM is still undefeated at home and currently holds the No. 1 spot in the Mountain West Conference while still in a neck-and-neck battle with UNLV to keep the top spot.
The Lobos beat the Rams 85-74 in their first matchup in January after Lobo Antonia Anderson put up 30 points. Colorado State had to try to keep up with a Lobo offense that has averaged over seven points more than theirs through the season.
The Pit crowd was sparse due to harsh winter weather conditions, which also delayed tipoff for 22 minutes. Anderson started hot and never cooled down, scoring 17 first-half points and shooting 4-6 from three. Jaeden De La Cerda took on more time running the offense than usual and recorded five assists in the first half with only one turnover. Shaiquel McGruder was as efficient as ever on 5-6 shooting.
CSU guard Mckenna Hofschild scored her team’s first seven points and carried them through the first half, going into halftime with 16 points. UNM head coach Mike Bradbury said after the game that the Lobos tried to contain Hofschild by switching through their one through four positions, but that “she’s just a really good player” and were only able to hold her to 28 points.
UNM finished the first half with a 9-0 run and went to the locker room up 47-32, unaware that the second half would be much tougher for them. CSU players other than Hofschild began making shots more consistently and the Lobos shot only 5-18 from the three-point line. Anderson continued to be dominant, though, and finished with 16 points in the second half.
The Rams managed to cut the Lobo lead to three with 8:49 left in the game, but UNM stayed ahead on the backs of Anderson and De La Cerda. LaTora Duff, who struggled the whole night and was only 1-6 through the first three quarters, sealed the Lobo victory with two driving layups.
“I’m proud of our team,” Bradbury said about the last quarter of the game. “I thought when they cut (the lead) to three, we responded and were able to get it back together and finish the game.”
Anderson set a new career-high with 33 points, beating her previous career high that she set in last month’s game against CSU. She shot the ball solidly (11-22 and 7-14 from three) and was a +16. Bradbury said the Lobos needed her scoring, but, in his mind, De La Cerda was their best player that night.
“She had to play a lot of minutes at a position she doesn’t play a lot (in), and she made every right play,” Bradbury said.
The Lobos play next on Saturday, Feb. 5 at The Pit against the University of Wyoming, who they beat 85-76 in an away game last month. The Lobos will need to prepare for McKinley Bradshaw, who can score in almost any way and had 27 points against UNM in January.
Matthew Salcido is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @baggyeyedguy