Monday’s women’s basketball game at the Pit was not on the original schedule, but it played out pretty much as expected.
The Mountain West-leading University of New Mexico had few problems with struggling San Jose State, emptying the bench early and coasting to an 87-57 victory.
Shaiquel McGruder racked up 18 points in 19 minutes before calling it a night as the Lobos (17-4, 8-0) extended their winning streak to nine games. Everyone in uniform played at least six minutes for UNM, and 11 players scored.
It was precisely what Lobos coach Mike Bradbury was hoping for with his team scheduled for a first-place showdown Thursday night at UNLV.
“Everyone got in and played hard,” Bradbury said. “That’s good because some players hadn’t been in a game for a couple weeks and they got a chance to build some confidence. We got good minutes out of a lot of people tonight.”
Monday’s game was scheduled to make up for the Dec. 28 MWC opener between the Lobos and Spartans that was postponed because of COVID issues within SJSU’s program. The rescheduled game tipped off at 5:30 p.m., and many of the announced 4,179 fans were still arriving well into the second quarter.
By that time, UNM had things pretty much in hand. The Lobos had an early 11-0 run, led 25-13 after one quarter and were never really threatened by the Spartans (3-15, 0-7), who lost their 12th straight game.
The Lobos’ starters had their moments in abbreviated duty, particularly McGruder, who racked up five rebounds, three steals and four blocks to go with her 18 points.
“We weren’t going to take this game for granted,” McGruder said. “We talked about just playing our game and to keep pushing.”
McGruder scored the first basket of the second half to give the Lobos a 52-26 lead, then spent most of the remaining minutes watching her teammates perform. UNM got 40 bench points and some impressive efforts from some reserves.
Foremost among them was Viané Cumber, who played 22 minutes and scored 14 points. Cumber got into the game in the first quarter and hit 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
“I felt great,” Cumber said. “Being out there with the first group was nice and it’s always good to see that first shot go in — takes some of the pressure off.”
The Lobos also got major contributions from Aniyah Augmon (three points and 10 rebounds in 16 minutes), Neveah Parkinson (nine points, five rebounds in 8 minutes) and Kath van Bennekom (six points in 8 minutes).
McGruder smiled when asked about cheering on some of her lesser-used teammates.
“It’s such a wonderful feeling,” she said. “They’ve been practicing hard and playing hard, so it’s really great to see them have some good moments. They deserve it.”
San Jose State had a brief 11-1 run in the third quarter, trimming a 26-point deficit to 53-37, but UNM quickly recovered. LaTascya Duff and Cumber drilled back-to-back 3s and the margin was 70-41 by the end of the quarter.
Ella Ogier finished with 13 points to pace the Spartans. Jaedyn De La Cerda had nine points and five assists for UNM.
Paula Reus, who scored six points and grabbed four rebounds for the Lobos, was named the MW Freshman of the Week on Monday.
Women: UNM at UNLV, 7 p.m., 610 AM/95.9 FM, themw.com (streaming)