You know it’s going to be a good night when …
The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team offered some definitive conclusions to that statement Thursday night in Laramie, Wyoming. Shaiquel McGruder provided a notable one, scoring 26 points to help the Lobos earn an 85-76 victory over Wyoming at the Arena Auditorium.
McGruder’s big night wasn’t necessarily surprising. She entered the game as UNM’s leading scorer and posted a 30-point game earlier this season.
A bit less expected was that McGruder hit three of the Lobos’ 13 3-pointers, going 3-for-4 from long range where she had hit just 2-of-11 all season prior to Thursday.
“They weren’t guarding me,” McGruder said in a postgame phone interview, “but I really wasn’t going to shoot that first one. I heard Jaedyn (De La Cerda) yell, ‘Shoot it,” Coach Mike (Bradbury) yelled, ‘Shoot it,’ so I figured I better shoot it. Once that one went in, I didn’t hesitate.”
McGruder had plenty of help as four players scored in double figutres for UNM (14-4, 5-0 Mountain West). De La Cerda had 19 points, and Antonia Anderson and Paula Reus chipped in 12 apiece. De La Cerda, the reigning MWC player of the week, stayed hot with an array of drives, floaters and 3-pointers.
“Jaedyn was outstanding,” Bradbury said. “Wyoming’s plan was to take the 3-point line away from our three guards, and Jaedyn just kept taking what they gave her. She really showed a lot of maturity and leadership tonight.”
De La Cerda said she noticed early that Wyoming was crowding the 3-point arc.
“Sometimes you have to find other ways to score,” she said. “If I can drive it and score a few times, the outside shots eventually open up.”
UNM led wire to wire against a Cowgirls squad that had not played since Dec. 31 because of COVID issues.
McKinley Bradshaw scored 27 points to lead Wyoming (5-7, 1-2), which hit 11 3-pointers and made a series of runs at the Lobos in the second half. New Mexico held a 46-32 advantage at halftime.
“I thought Wyoming played well,” Bradbury said. “We just did a good job answering runs.”
There were several unusual aspects to Thursday’s game for the Lobos, who stretched their overall winning streak to six games.
Anderson became the 24th member of UNM’s 1,000-point club and narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds.
Reus scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half, hitting back-to-back 3s as the Lobos built a double-digit lead.
Twins LaTora and LaTascya Duff combined for just two points in the first half. LaTascya did not score for the first three quarters but hit three straight 3s in the fourth to help UNM maintain its lead.
UNM boarded a bus for Fort Collins, Colorado, late Thursday night and will face Colorado State on Saturday. The Rams were blown out (77-52) by Air Force on Thursday.