The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team were handed their first home loss of the season, 60-59, by the University of Wyoming on a last-second buzzer beater at The Pit on Saturday, Feb. 5. With two losses in conference play, the Lobos dropped to second place in the Mountain West Conference behind the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
UNM was battered inside, particularly by 6-foot-4-inch Allyson Fertig, who scored 19 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. As a team, Wyoming scored 40 points in the paint while UNM managed a small 22 paint-points in comparison. They also outrebounded the Lobos 43-24.
UNM scored their lowest point total this season, a symptom of Wyoming controlling the pace of the game, which UNM head coach Mike Bradbury attributed to the Lobos’ inability to rebound.
Wyoming came out with a quick start, but UNM managed to rebound in time to win the first quarter 14-9. Paula Reus managed to give UNM some life with her energy and passing from the elbow. The Lobos got beat 19-13 in the second quarter with Anderson scoring eight of the Lobos’ 13 points. Both Shaiquel McGruder and Reus tried to stop Fertig in the third quarter, but neither were very successful. UNM barely won the quarter 15-14.
Even with all their troubles guarding inside and rebounding, UNM found themselves up seven, 59-52, with 2:52 left in the game. Wyoming’s McKinley Bradshaw quickly fired up a three, cutting the lead to 59-55. The two teams traded turnovers, and UNM missed two threes. After grabbing the rebound off of the second three-point attempt, Wyoming pushed the ball and Quinn Weidemann finished the fast break with a layup, making the score 59-57 with 1:01 left.
Bradbury called a timeout. UNM came on the court and found Jaedyn De La Cerda, but her three-point attempt missed. Wyoming missed a layup and then committed their first team foul of the quarter. UNM inbounded the ball under Wyoming’s basket to De La Cerda, but it ended up going out of bounds. After the officiating crew engaged in a lengthy discussion over which team knocked the ball out of bounds, the ball was awarded to Wyoming, who took a timeout to discuss their next play.
With 19 seconds left and a chance to tie or take the lead, Wyoming decided to try a lob pass to Fertig, which had been a reliable play for them the whole game, but UNM swarmed her and caused her to travel. UNM inbounded the ball and Wyoming fouled immediately. UNM took a timeout to get the ball to halfcourt, inbounded it again and immediately got fouled again by a Wyoming player. The Lobos again got the ball, and Antonia Anderson, who had been stellar earlier in the game, threw the ball out of bounds, giving the ball back to Wyoming with 13 seconds left.
Wyoming inbounded the ball and looked for an opening. The ball got to Weidemann, who drove and pivoted out to find an outlet, but got cut off by LaTascya Duff on the baseline. She kicked the ball out to Tommi Olson, who was 0-3 the whole game. LaTora Duff sprinted out and extended her left arm out toward Olson, stretching to try and contest the shot. Olson shot a high-arcing three, the buzzer sounded and the ball ripped through the net, giving Wyoming the three points they needed to win 60-59.
Bradbury’s post-game remarks were brief, and he gave Wyoming credit for taking the win at the end.
“They made the plays at the end, and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to,” Bradbury said. “I give Wyoming a lot of credit (for) continuing to fight back in the fourth quarter … We had a couple of late mistakes and they took advantage.”
UNM has six regular season conference games left, two at home and four away, before the Mountain West Tournament starts on March 6. Their next two games will be their first contests against the United States Air Force Academy, who are ranked fourth in the conference, and the University of Nevada, Reno, who are ranked third.
Their last four games are rematches against Utah State University, Boise State University, California State University, Fresno and San José State University. The Lobos beat all of those teams previously, but only by four and six in the cases of Boise State and Fresno State, respectively.
UNLV still has a game against Wyoming, but will only be playing the bottom seven of 11 teams in the conference until the tournament. UNM will have to be even more perfect than they were during their win streak to stay in second place and might need a bit of luck to jump to first again.
Matthew Salcido is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at baggyeyedguy