Lobo women's furious rally falls short at New Mexico State - Albuquerque Journal

Lobo women’s furious rally falls short at New Mexico State

UNM’s Amaya Brown, left, goes up and under New Mexico State’s Aggie Fama Thiam for a shot during Tuesday’s game in the Pan Am Center in Las Cruces. (Jaime Guzman/Courtesy of the Las Cruces Sun-News)

 

Jaelyn Bates brings the ball up the court against NMSU’s Taylor Donaldson. (Jaime Guzman/Courtesy of Las Cruces Sun-News)

LAS CRUCES — For most of three quarters, southern New Mexico felt very much like a desert to the UNM women’s basketball team Tuesday night.

Then everything changed.

What had been a cakewalk for host New Mexico State suddenly turned into a dogfight. UNM stormed back from a 28-point deficit to force overtime but couldn’t quite escape the enormous hole. Soufia Inoussa hit a pair of dagger 3-pointers in the extra period and NMSU pulled out a wild 73-64 victory at the Pan American Center.

Inoussa finished with 14 points to lead first-year coach Jody Adams’ Aggies (2-1), who dominated the first 28 minutes but almost watched things slip away over the final 12. LaTora Duff led four players in double figures with 13 points for the Lobos (1-2), who very nearly overcame three quarters of dismal shooting.

UNM (1-2) never led in the game, but tied things five times in the fourth quarter and overtime. Both teams had shots for the lead in the final minute of regulation — UNM’s Shaiquel McGruder missing a short jumper that rolled across the rim and fell off with 32 seconds left, and NMSU’s Molly Kaiser hitting the back iron with 3 seconds left.

But UNM’s wild rally seemed to run out of legs in overtime, when Inoussa’s 3-pointers helped NMSU finally pull away and snap an eight-game losing streak to their I-25 rivals.

Lobos coach Mike Bradbury credited his team’s comeback but was not at all happy with its overall effort.

“I think we lacked energy and lacked focus,” he said. “If you don’t work hard enough to get a good shot, sometimes one pass, sometimes no passes, not very many are going to go in.”

New Mexico State had its share of dry spells, too. The Aggies went just 3-for-12 from the field with five turnovers in the fourth quarter to aid the Lobos’ comeback. The home team missed 11 free throws in regulation, too.

But NMSU regained its form in overtime, hitting 5 of 8 from the field and all four of its free throws.

“(The Aggies) outworked us,” Bradbury said afterward. “Give them credit. I don’t know everything we need to fix but I’ll watch the video on the bus. I’ll know by the time we get home.”

The first half could not have been much worse for the Lobos, who misfired from just about everywhere. UNM was a glacial 1-for-14 from the field in the first quarter with Amaya Brown’s jumper with 6:15 left the only breakthrough.

NMSU, meanwhile, started 9-for-19 from the field and got a pair of 3s from Ashlee Strawbridge and Fama Thiam to lead 20-2.

The Aggies led 32-13 at halftime and seemed to have put things away with a 12-0 run midway through the third quarter, leading 44-16.

UNM then turned to a full-court, trapping defense to get back in it and did just that. A Shaiquel McGruder steal and layup made the deficit 44-27 after three quarters, and the Lobos outscored the Aggies 30-13 in the fourth.

LaTora and LaTascya Duff hit 3-pointers during the surge to pull UNM to within a point at 51-50, and McGruder later tied it at 52 with a breakaway layup. McGruder finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Amaya Brown added 11 points and seven boards for UNM.

Kaiser ended up with 12 points for the Aggies, who outrebounded the Lobos 44-33 and outscored them 40-28 in the paint.

Box score: New Mexico State 73, UNM 64

SUNDAY: Arizona State at New Mexico, 2 p.m., 610 AM/95.9 FM

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