LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Another bad start and a worse finish cost the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team dearly in its Mountain West Conference opener at UNLV on Thursday night.
After rallying to take a one-point lead with 2:39 remaining, the Lobos did not score again. The Rebels scored the final 12 points, 10 of them from the foul line, and pulled out a 68-57 victory at Cox Pavilion.
Kelli Thompson scored six of her game-high 21 points during UNLV’s final surge, all six on free throws, but the game effectively came down to turnovers.
UNM at Fresno State, 3 p.m., 610 AM
UNM gave the ball away 27 times leading directly to 25 UNLV points.
“Twenty-seven turnovers is absolutely horrific,” Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez said in a postgame phone interview. “Our guards had 23 of those turnovers, and you’re not going to beat anyone with that. I liked our effort coming back, but this was a game we should have won.”
Caroline Durbin had 16 points, and Deeva Vaughn scored 13 to pace the Lobos (8-6, 0-1). Vaughn was part of a revamped starting lineup that Sanchez hoped would help UNM end a string of poor starts. It didn’t happen. The Lobos had nine early turnovers and fell into a 17-8 hole.
UNLV (5-10, 1-0) led by as many as 10 points in the first half and again at 39-29 early in the second. A Vaughn 3-pointer then sparked an 8-0 Lobo run and the contest was nip and tuck the rest of the way.
Back-to-back Durbin 3s gave UNM its first lead at 52-50 with 7:39 left, but Thompson answered with consecutive jumpers. A Vaughn layup put the Lobos back in front with 2:39 left, but the rally ended there.
New Mexico missed its final six shots and was forced to start fouling late. UNLV hit its final 10 free throws and went 18 for 24 at the line.
— This article appeared on page D2 of the Albuquerque Journal