LOGAN, Utah — New Mexico women’s basketball coach Mike Bradbury had one thing in mind when he went to check on a couple of injured players late in Wednesday’s game.
It wasn’t so much the outcome of the ballgame. The Lobos had pretty much already decided that.
When guard Laneah Bryan tumbled to the floor late in the third quarter and post Jaisa Nunn did the same early in the fourth, New Mexico was well on its way to a 74-50 Mountain West Conference victory.
No, in light of the recent torn ACL suffered by senior starter Alex Lapeyrolerie, Bradbury wanted to make sure something similar wasn’t taking place in either case.
“First thing I asked, because we’ve had four ACLs in the last year, was, ‘So, what is it?'” said Bradbury when approaching Bryan, who was on the floor after hurting her right ankle. “They said, ‘Her ankle,’ so I said OK and walked off.”
“When Jaisa was hurt under the basket and just laying there, I went down there and said, ‘What is it?'” he continued. “They said she got hit in the face. I said, ‘OK, she’s going to be all right.'”
New Mexico (20-7, 8-6) essentially was fine from the beginning of the second quarter to the end. The only lead of the contest for Utah State (5-20, 3-11) came in the first few possessions before the Lobos ran off seven straight points for a 9-4 lead.
Five Lobos scored in double figures, with Tesha Buck and Bryan each tallying 13 to lead the team. At the start of the second period, after a basket by the Aggies’ Shannon Dufficy to make the score 16-10, the visitors stretched the lead to 13 when Buck scored inside, N’Dea Flye drove the lane for a short jumper and Madi Washington made a 3-pointer.
For the next quarter, into the first two minutes of the third period, the best Utah State could do was flirt with reducing the lead to under 10 points.
That went by the wayside when UNM, up 35-25, went on a 13-3 run for the rest of the third.
In that stretch, Nunn scored a three-point play while Bryan and Washington both hit 3-pointers.
“I felt we really played good defensively. We really followed the game plan and we really played hard,” Bryan said. “That’s what you’ve got to do to get a road win.”
Nunn scored 12 points, Washington added 11 and Antonia Anderson got into double figures with 10. Five Lobos also had at least a pair of steals each as the Utah State offense was at times easy pickins for the visitors.
As for the New Mexico offense, Bradbury was pleased with the way his team played its first game without Lapeyrolerie, who is out for the season.
“We put Laneah Bryan in there and just moved on. We didn’t change a thing, we just put the next one in and kept going,” Bradbury said. “I felt Laneah played well. To be honest with you, I felt we all played well.
“It’s about as good as we’ve played in a long time,” he added.
It was a game the Lobos couldn’t afford to lose. The next four games — the last four of the regular season — are against the top four teams in the MWC standings starting with a home date against league-leader Wyoming next Wednesday.
“We’re going to get rested and hopefully get healthy here,” Bradbury said. “And we’ll be ready.”