Small venue, small final margin, but it felt like a huge victory for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team.
Sara Halasz scored 18 points to pace four Lobos in double figures as UNM rallied for a 76-73 win over San Jose State at De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif.
The Lobos did not make it easy on themselves, missing three straight free throws in the final 1:10. Bryce Owens also missed a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left – and six on the shot clock – to give the Spartans a final chance to tie.
But Jayzyl Tauala missed a contested 3-pointer as time expired and UNM escaped. The road win was the Lobos’ first this season and snapped an overall five-game losing streak.
“We just needed a win, however we had to get one,” Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez said in a postgame phone interview. “We need to do a better job closing out games, but it’s nice to be able to learn from a win. I’m really proud of our players for the way they fought.”
UNM (8-12, 3-6 Mountain West) trailed 15-10 early but rallied behind Halasz and Khadijah Shumpert to build a 42-34 lead with 10 seconds left in the first half. Tauala hit a buzzer-beating jumper to make it 42-36, and the Spartans (8-13, 2-8) opened the second half with a 19-4 tear to lead 55-46.
But after starting 1-for-12 from the field, the Lobos’ Halasz and Deeva Vaughn fueled a 19-7 surge, capped by a Halasz jumper that gave UNM a 65-62 edge with 4:30 left.
SJSU kept it close, twice cutting the deficit to one point down the stretch. But Owens hit a key 3-pointer and Antiesha Brown scored seven of her 13 points in the final three minutes to help UNM hang on.
Shumpert, who started for the first time in eight games, had 16 points and eight rebounds for UNM, which had a 48-34 rebounding edge. Vaughn had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Ta’Rea Cunnigan scored 23 points for the Spartans, who also had four players in double figures. The game was played at De Anza College because a concert was scheduled at San Jose State’s Event Center on Saturday.