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Win Earns Lobo Women No. 7 Seed at MWC Basketball Tourney

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Stolen or not, the UNM women’s basketball team will take it.

Jasmine Patterson’s steal and go-ahead driving layup in the final minute of overtime helped the Lobos pull out a dramatic 73-70 victory over Air Force at Clune Arena on Saturday.

New Mexico’s 30th consecutive win over the Falcons made the Lobos the No. 7 seed for this week’s Mountain West Conference tournament in Las Vegas, Nev. UNM will face sixth-seeded San Diego State in a first-round game at 8 p.m.

MWC Tourney: No. 7 New Mexico vs. No. 6 San Diego State, 8 p.m.
Radio: KNML-AM (610)

The Aztecs were outscored 40-17 in the second half of a 66-51 loss at Colorado State on Saturday to fall to sixth place. SDSU swept two close games against UNM during the regular season.


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The winner of Tuesday’s New Mexico-San Diego State game meets No. 3 Wyoming on Wednesday.

The Lobos (11-17, 5-11 MWC) trailed for much of Saturday’s game and were in a 70-67 hole with less than a minute left in overtime. Patterson converted a driving shot to make it 70-69, then came up with the steal and scored again with 12 seconds remaining.

After forcing a turnover, the Lobos sealed things with two Amanda Best free throws.

“It was battle all day,” UNM coach Don Flanagan said in a postgame phone interview. “Air Force played well and really pushed us, but we needed this win and we found a way at the end. It’s good preparation for the conference tournament.”

Patterson finished with 16 points, but Best stole the show for New Mexico. Playing the entire game, the senior racked up 20 points, 21 rebounds, three assists, four steals and just two turnovers. The 21 rebounds were a career high, the most by a Lobo since Dionne Marsh had 21 in 2007 and the most by a UNM point guard.

“That’s Amanda’s best game ever,” Flanagan said. “She might be a little tired (today), but she left it all out there for us.”

Air Force (8-21, 3-13) got 50 combined points from Dymond James and Alicia Leipprandt and was a red-hot 16-of-28 from the field in the first half. The Falcons led by as many as eight points, but UNM pulled within 38-36 at halftime.

New Mexico rallied to tie twice in the second half, but each time Air Force responded with a run. The Lobos took their first lead of the half when Chinyere Nnaji’s jumper capped a 6-0 surge to 57-56. Nnaji scored a career-best six points off the bench.


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“I was looking for someone to compete,” Flanagan said, “and Chin answered the call.”

With the score 61-61, Air Force missed two shots for the lead in the final 20 seconds of regulation. Best was unable to get a shot off as time expired.

But New Mexico scored when it counted most, getting the final six points of overtime.

Jessica Kielpinski had 15 points and eight rebounds for UNM, while Lauren Taylor chipped in nine points off the bench.

James led AFA with 26 points and 13 boards, while Leipprandt scored 24 points.


NEW MEXICO 73, AIR FORCE 70, OT Saturday at Air Force Academy, Colo. NEW MEXICO (11-17, 5-11) Best 7-18 0-2 20, Patterson 7-15 1-5 16, Kielpinski 5-14 1-1 15, Taylor 1-6, Durbin 0-3 0-1 0, Doughty 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor 1-6 1-3 9, Erskine 0-3 0-0 0, Toben 2-8 1-6 5, Boettcher 0-1 0-0 0, Nnaji 3-4 0-0 6, Unverzagt 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-77 4-18 73. AIR FORCE (8-21, 3-13) James 11-17 0-0 26, Berger 2-7 0-2 4, Leipprandt 7-16 1-1 24, Muniz 1-4 0-3 2, Beck 3-10 1-4 8, O’Neil 1-1 0-0 2, Thompson 0-2 0-0 0Hilbig 1-1 0-0 2, Satterfield 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 27-62 2-10 70. Halftime—Air Force 38-36. 3-Point Goals— New Mexico 4-18 (Kielpinski 1-1, Taylor 1-3, Patterson 1-5, Toben 1-6, Durbin 0-1, Best 0-2). Air Force 2-10 (Leipprandt 1-1, Beck 1-4, Berger 0-2, Muniz 0-3). Rebounds—New Mexico 45 (Best 21), Air Force 45 (James 13). Assists—New Mexico 14 (Best, Patterson 3), Air Force 14 (Muniz 7). Total Fouls—New Mexico 18, Air Force 17. Technicals—none A—723