On Saturday, Feb. 25 the University of New Mexico women's basketball team defeated the Utah State University Aggies 111-55. The Lobos improved to 19-11 and 11-6 in conference play.
It was senior night at The Pit where LaTora Duff, Amaya Brown, LaTascya Duff and Shaiquel McGruder were honored after the game. Each player walked out of the tunnel with family members and received flowers and their jersey in a frame. Fans also said goodbye with a standing ovation for each of the players.
UNM had a great game; they beat the Aggies in every statistical category: they won the rebounding battle, had less turnovers and made 39 of their 71 shots. The team had seven players with double-digit scores.
Every Lobo had a good game, but the seniors had stand-out performances. McGruder led the team in points with 17 and grabbed seven rebounds. LaTascya Duff had 13 points, three assists and three rebounds. Brown had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. LaTora Duff scored 11 and had a team high six assists.
Maria Carvalho had a great game for Utah State: she scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Her teammate Mayson Kimball had 11 points and three rebounds.
The Lobos forced three consecutive turnovers that led to Brown and McGruder layups to start the game. Carvalho earned the first points for the Aggies with a tough jumpshot, but the Lobos played stellar defense which led to a 13-0 run to go up 19-4.
The Lobos gave up two 3-pointers but responded with a 6-0 run to close out the first quarter. The Lobos were up 32-12 as they went into the second quarter.
Carvalho fought for a rebound and made a second-chance layup. McGruder worked in the post to score on back-to-back possessions, and Paula Reus followed it up with a floater off the glass. The Lobos were up 40-18 with 4:41 left in the first half.
LaTora Duff and Brown were fouled on back-to-back possessions; they each made both of their free throws. Vianè Cumber made a 3-pointer for a 9-0 Lobo run, but the run was ended with a Carvalho jumpshot. The Lobos were up 49-22 at the end of the second quarter. UNM had a phenomenal half. They won the rebounding battle 27-15 and shared the ball with a total of 12 assists. The Aggies could only find scores with Carvalho who had 13 points.
McGruder scored a layup on the first possession of the second half. Cumber and LaTascya Duff make back-to-back 3-pointers to force an Aggie timeout down 57-22 with 7:48 left in the third quarter.
LaTora Duff made a pair of free throws to go up by 41. The Lobos were up 79-37 going into the fourth quarter.
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At the start of the fourth quarter, all four seniors checked back into the game for their final quarter at The Pit. LaTora Duff, Brown, LaTascya Duff and McGruder were subbed out with 9:16 left in the game. They received a standing ovation from the crowd. The Lobos won their final home game 111-55.
After the game, head coach Mike Bradbury spoke about the seniors' impact on the team.
"I'm so happy for those four seniors that got to play their final regular season home game in front of a good crowd … It's been a good group. They've won a lot of games and won a championship … They have been great for the University," Bradbury said.
After the game, Brown spoke about the team's emotions during the game.
"We were all excited and we were so excited to play one last home game together. We all got together and said, ‘This is crazy’," Brown said.
McGruder was still processing that this was her last home game following their win.
"It's a very emotional day. It just hit me that this is my actual last one. This is really it. Last year, I wasn't as emotional because I was like I have another full season here. This is my last one," McGruder said.
The Lobos have their final regular season game in Fresno, California on Tuesday, Feb. 28 against the Fresno State Bulldogs.
Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @thomasbulger10