The University of New Mexico women's basketball team lost 77-60 to the University of Arizona Wildcats on Sunday, Dec 4. Going into the game, the Wildcats were 14th in the Associated Press top 25 rankings. They are the toughest opponent the Lobos will face in nonconference play.
The game was more competitive than the final score suggests, though: the Lobos had a hard time taking care of the ball with 26 turnovers and subsequently allowing Arizona to score 36 points off of them. When the Lobo defense got set, though, they didn't allow many easy baskets.
Paula Reus led the team in scoring with 14 points and made six of her 13 shots. LaTascya Duff was the only other Lobo in double digit in scoring: she had 10 points along with three rebounds, two assists and a steal.
For Arizona, Jade Loville had 27 points with a majority of them coming from 3-pointers where she made six of her seven attempts. Shaina Pellington was the other high-scoring Wildcat with 19 points, with a majority of them coming in the first half.
The game started with Arizona forcing a turnover and scoring the first points of the game on a fastbreak. Reus scored 5 straight points and forced a turnover which led to the Wildcats taking an early timeout down 5-2 with 8:25 left in the game.
UNM was playing solid defense, forcing Arizona to take tough shots. However, sloppy turnovers kept the Wildcats in the game. The Lobos made seven of their 12 shots with Reus leading the team in scoring with 7 points just in the first quarter. The Lobos were up 16-15 going into the second quarter.
The Lobos started out fast in the second quarter, forcing back-to-back turnovers and scoring layups. However, the Lobos were unable to build a lead due to their own turnovers. They were called for a 5-second violation after failing to inbound the ball.
The Wildcats then went on 7-0 run, starting with a Lauren Fields 3-pointer. Shaiquel McGruder grabbed an offensive rebound and fought for a layup to end Arizona's run. Then, on a fastbreak, LaTora Duff put the Lobos within 1 point, but then they gave up a 3-pointer to Jade Loville. The first half ended with the Lobos down 36-30.
Going back into the second half, the Lobos had 14 turnovers. While they played good defense, they were unable to slow down Pellington, who scored 13 points in the half.
The third quarter started off with back-to-back Lobo turnovers. LaTora Duff was the first to score in the half with 7:33 left to go in the third quarter. LaTascya Duff made a 3-pointer and LaTora Duff scored on a layup to put the Lobos down just 38-37. Arizona then took a timeout with 5:45 left in the quarter.
Out of the timeout, Arizona went on a 11-0 run with Loville making two 3-pointers. LaTora Duff ended the run with a midrange jumpshot. The Lobos were down 54-43 going into the fourth quarter.
The Lobos again started the fourth quarter with a turnover and gave up a 3-pointer to Loville. The Lobo offense completely stalled out and allowed the Wildcats to close out the game. The Lobos lost 77-60: after a competitive first half, the Lobos’ continued turnovers cost them the game.
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After the game, head coach Mike Bradbury was thankful for the high attendance with 6,087 fans in the stands. He also gave a lot of credit to the Wildcats.
"I thought the atmosphere was unbelievable. We had a great crowd and a great opponent here, and I appreciate Arizona coming. Very, very good team. They will definitely be a second-weekend team in March, maybe further than that. But I thought the atmosphere was really good, and I hope we can continue that," Bradbury said.
Reus talked about her attitude going into the game and, when she was asked about how the team responded to Arizona's full-court press, was overall pleased but commented on the team's turnovers.
"I was motivated, I just focused on the game … They're a great team. I was ready for the game, I was prepared … I think we did a really good job sometimes in some situations, but we turned the ball over and that was the big difference," Reus said.
The Lobos now sit at an overall record of 4-4. They next play in Albuquerque against Abilene Christian University on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @thomasbulger10