Instructional might be the best word to describe Saturday’s University of New Mexico women’s basketball exhibition game.
The Lobos and coach Mike Bradbury learned plenty from their 84-75 win over West Texas A&M in the Pit – some of it good, some not so good – but the overall result was exactly what Bradbury had in mind.
West Texas A&M, coming off an NCAA Division II Elite Eight run, was far from an exhibition cupcake and made the Lobos work for nearly everything they got. The Lady Buffs led by as many as eight points in the first half and took a 40-39 advantage to halftime before UNM took charge.
“It’s always good to play a team that’s really going to test you,” Bradbury said. “… They’re a well-coached team, bigger than us, and they took advantage of our mistakes. We’ll watch the video and learn a lot from this game.”
LaTascya Duff scored 17 points to pace four Lobos in double figures. Paula Reus added 15 points, with LaTora Duff and Shaiquel McGruder scoring 14 apiece.
All 15 players on the roster saw action for UNM, though some got fewer minutes than Bradbury might have liked. That was because West Texas A&M rocked the Lobos with a 23-4 run midway through the first half and managed to hang around until the closing minutes.
The Lady Buffs’ scoring tear drove one point home: UNM’s zone defense is not ready for prime time.
Bradbury and West Texas coach Josh Prock agreed in advance to play zone in the second quarter, allowing both teams to work on their zone offenses. That stretch was all Lady Buffs, who hit three 3-pointers and turned a 27-19 deficit into a 40-32 lead. UNM went 0-for-9 from long range in the second quarter.
“We’re both (man-to-man) teams,” Bradbury said, “but we’re going to face zones at some point and we wanted to work on it. Needless to say, that put us in a hole.”
Rio Rancho High School alum Kamirah Decker and Sienna Lenz netted two 3-pointers apiece during the Lady Buffs’ run. Decker finished with eight points, six rebounds and two assists in her return to the Pit.
UNM did have an answer. Aniyah Augmon’s three-point play capped a 7-0 run to trim the deficit to one point at halftime. The Lobos then opened the third quarter with an 18-4 surge to take its largest lead at 57-44. Both Duff sisters drained 3-pointers during the run.
“I felt like it was a little too close at halftime,” said LaTora, who had nine assists to go with her 14 points. “I kind of talked to the other starters and said, ‘Let’s get it rolling.'”
Bradbury substituted frequently during the late third and early fourth quarters but brought his starters back to close out the final minutes. West Texas never got closer than a six-point defecit in the fourth quarter but remained in striking distance until the final minute.
“I thought the freshmen and new players looked good,” Bradbury said. “They played hard and played together. We probably played (McGruder) and the twins a little more than we would’ve liked, but in the last six minutes we wanted to make sure to win the game.”
Viané Cumber scored six points to pace UNM’s reserves, draining a pair of first-half 3-pointers. Freshman Jaelyn Bates had a solid debut with two points, three rebounds and an assist in 13 minutes.
Freshmen Hannah Robbins and Brooke Berry hit their first shots as Lobos, as did junior transfer Hulda Joaquim (a 3-pointer).
“I thought everyone helped out,” LaTascya Duff said. “Once we get the freshmen out there more, our chemistry with them will build. I’d say this was a good start.”