RENO, Nev. – It was far from UNM’s best but just good enough.
Aisia Robertson scored 21 points and hit a go-ahead layup with 1:03 left as the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team pulled out a 66-64 victory over host Nevada on Saturday. The Lobos (12-1, 2-0 Mountain West) earned their 11th consecutive victory in spite of being outplayed in the post and watching an 11-point lead evaporate in the fourth quarter.
After the Wolf Pack (4-9, 0-2) rallied to tie the score with 1:40 left and later had possession with a chance to go ahead, UNM forced a steal near midcourt. Shai McGruder then found Robertson with a lead pass for what would be the decisive basket.
Nevada had a final shot for the lead but Da’Ja Hamilton’s long, contested 3-point try before the buzzer was an airball.
“Nevada dominated inside and punished us on the boards,” UNM coach Mike Bradbury said in a postgame phone interview, “but we just hung in there. Really good teams find a way to win when they don’t play well and our players did that. I’m proud of them.”
Robertson came up big for the Lobos, scoring their final nine points to help fight off Nevada’s late rally. Jayla Everett contributed 16 points and a team-high six assists, while Ahlise Hurst scored 10 points to help UNM win the guard battle.
But New Mexico also got an unexpected boost from freshman post McGruder, who was pressed into service when starting posts Jaisa Nunn and Nike McClure spent most of the game in foul trouble. McGruder finished with nine points, four rebounds and a key assist in 18 minutes.
“I wasn’t planning on using Shai a lot in this game,” Bradbury said, “but necessity was the mother of invention. She was outstanding.”
Everett and Jayden De La Cerda hit 3-pointers during a 10-0 second-quarter run that helped UNM lead 30-22 at halftime. But Nevada, which got 17 points from Jade Redmon, battled back to tie at 44 on Mikayla Christian’s banked-in 3 late in the third.
UNM scored the next 11 points and took a 55-44 advantage on Everett’s third 3-pointer of the game, but again the Wolf Pack answered. Camariah King’s basket with 1:40 remaining made the score 64-all, but UNM came up with stops on Nevada’s final three possessions.
Robertson, who added seven rebounds, five assists and five steals, provided the leadership UNM needed, Bradbury said.
“You can question her decisions sometimes,” he said, “but not her will to win. She pushed us to the finish line today. We’re gonna roll with her.”
(Click here for the box score.)