Sometimes you simply can’t buy a break.
The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team found itself in that situation again Wednesday night when a wild finish left the Lobos on the short end of an 81-80 decision against San Jose State at Dreamstyle Arena.
UNM had two shots to win in the final eight seconds but could not get a roll or a call to go its way. Jaedyn De La Cerda spun into the paint and lofted an open floater that rolled around the rim, fell off and was tipped out of bounds with 1.4 seconds showing.
The Lobos then inbounded the ball to Jayla Everett, who collided with San Jose State’s Cydni Lewis on a short baseline jump shot. No call was made as the deflected shot missed and Bradbury raced to the official for an explanation while the Spartans celebrated their first victory at the Pit.
“She said she thought the defender went straight up,” Bradbury said with a shrug.
It was the third one-point loss for the snake-bitten Lobos (9-7, 0-3 Mountain West) in less than a month, with two of them coming down to unfavorable officials’ calls in the closing seconds.
Wednesday’s defeat was particularly frustrating because UNM had rallied from a six-point, fourth-quarter deficit and led 80-79 on two Everett free throws with 25 seconds left. UNM had committed just two team fouls in the quarter at that point and opted to play aggressive defense on the Spartans’ final possession.
Everett fouled Ayzhiana Basallo with 15 seconds left, and Jordan Hosey later bumped her on a drive as the ball sailed out of bounds. But as the Lobos lined up to defend an inbounds play with eight seconds left, the official signaled two free throws for Basallo.
The MWC’s leading scorer hit both to give San Jose State (9-5, 3-0) the lead.
UNM’s Antonia Anderson, who led all scorers with a career-best 23 points, was under the SJSU basket when the foul on Hosey was called. She did not believe Basallo should have been awarded free throws.
“No, I did not think she was shooting,” Anderson said. “She was still trying to get to the basket – but we can’t let the game come down to that.”
UNM certainly could have avoided the late drama with a better performance in the third quarter. The Lobos largely controlled the first half and took a 39-29 lead to intermission.
But the Spartans, who lead the MWC in scoring at 81 points per game, dominated the third quarter. Aided by some sloppy UNM ball-handling (seven turnovers), SJSU racked up 35 points in the third and turned a 10-point deficit into a 64-58 lead.
Megan Anderson hit two of her six 3-pointers in the quarter (she finished with 20 points) and Raziya Potter scored 10 of her 12 points.
“They’re good,” Bradbury said of the Spartans. “Anderson kills us every time we play them. But the big thing was our energy was not quite the same in the third quarter as it was in the first, second and fourth. It’s not that we don’t play hard, we’ve just got to figure out how to do it consistently throughout the game.”
Anderson agreed: “We can’t let someone score 35 points in the third quarter.”
The Lobos regained their edge in the fourth, thanks in large part to Ahlse Hurst. After missing her first 10 3-point tries, Hurst buried 5 of 7 in the fourth quarter to help the Lobos regain the lead. She finished with 17 points, while Hosey posted a double-double with 16 points and a game-best 11 rebounds.
UNM outrebounded SJSU 41-36 and outscored the visitors 36-22 in the paint.
“I thought we did a good job inside,” Hosey said, “but that team scores. When you take away their go-to player, someone else steps up.”
Five players scored in double figures for the Spartans, including Basallo with 19 points. SJSU won the 3-point battle, hitting 14 to New Mexico’s 10.
Still, the final sequence was hard to swallow for the Lobos, who had a potential game-winning shot by Everett waved off on a questionable charge call against Loyola Marymount just two games prior.
“I’m not here to referee,” he said of the late calls against his Lobo squad. “We had one of the best crews you can ask for (Wednesday), so …”