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Lobo women dominate host UTEP in Tuesday matinee game

EL PASO — Maybe there’s something to this basketball-brunch idea.

The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team started fast and never let up Tuesday morning in a 93-78 victory over UTEP at the Don Haskins Center.

Posts Jordan Hosey, Bride Kennedy-Hopoate and Shai McGruder paced five Lobos in double figures as the visitors largely quieted an “Education Day” crowd announced at 1,352. Hosey posted a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds, Kennedy-Hopoate added 17 points, and McGruder chipped in 13 points and eight boards.

UNM outrebounded the Miners 41-30 and trailed just once, 2-0.

“Those three were ridiculous,” Lobos coach Mike Bradbury said of his post trio. “On the road you have to rebound, and we really did that. That’s the best game we’ve gotten out of our posts and it was really nice to see.”

The Lobos (5-0) will not play again until a Thanksgiving game against Missouri at the Cancun Challenge. Bradbury and his players were all smiles as they boarded a bus for Albuquerque Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve never been a morning person,” Hosey said, “but I can adjust. After I made my first couple shots, I was feeling it a little bit. This was fun.”

Kennedy-Hopoate agreed after her best game in a New Mexico uniform. She went 3-for-5 from 3-point range, added two rebounds, two assists and a steal off the bench, bouncing back from a scoreless outing Sunday at New Mexico State.

“The coaches have been telling me to square up and shoot it,” Kennedy-Hopoate said. “I felt more confident today. You know what? These morning games are not bad.”

Ahlise Hurst (16 points) and Jaedyn De La Cerda (12) also reached double figures for the Lobos, who led by 21 points in the fourth quarter. Katarina Zec scored 16 points to lead the Miners (3-1), but she struggled to find many open looks against Hurst and a hustling UNM defense.

“That team can shoot it,” Hosey said, “so we wanted to make them put it on the floor and drive. When we did, things worked out pretty well for us.”

Hosey made her presence felt on both ends of the court, drawing four offensive fouls against the Miners and having her way inside offensively. The senior transfer from Texas scored six points during a 10-0 run that gave UNM a 10-2 lead and took some of the starch out of the throng of elementary school students.

UTEP battled back and trailed just 19-18 with 2:01 left in the first. But the Lobos followed with a 16-1 surge that included 3-pointers by Hurst and Corina Carter sandwiched around two McGruder layups.

The Lobos led 35-19 early in the second quarter and 53-39 at halftime.

Another rally in the third got the Miners as close as 60-50 on an Avery Crouse layup with 4:56 left. But De La Cerda, who had not scored to that point, hit three straight 3-pointers to give UNM a 69-50 lead and effectively lock up the win.

“Once Jaedyn hit that first one, we ran a couple plays to get her the next two,” Bradbury said. “When she and Ahlise get going like that, you kind of have to ride them.”

Hurst, who came in as the national leader in 3-pointers, hit four to increase her season total to 25. Overall, UNM was 12-of-29 from long range.

The game included a slew of whistles as 45 fouls were called. UTEP got more opportunities at the foul line but the Lobos were far more efficient, hitting 17 of 19. The Miners were 20-of-33 from the line.

UNM’s Najala Howell, a former Miner facing her old team, was limited to 17 minutes because of foul trouble and scored four points.

Box score: UNM 93, UTEP 78

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