It won’t be remembered as a complete performance, but the Lobos showed up at closing time.
Paula Reus swished three consecutive 3 pointers early in the fourth quarter, LaTora Duff scored seven points in the final minute and the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team pulled out a 78-71 victory over Texas A&M Commerce on Saturday in Commerce, Texas.
UNM (3-3) led most of the way, but the Lions finished the third quarter with a 16-2 run and started the fourth with a 54-49 lead.
Reus made sure it didn’t last. The Lobo sophomore forward assisted on a Shaiquel McGruder layup , then buried 3-pointers on each of UNM’s next three possessions to give her team a 60-54 lead. Reus finished with a season-high 18 points (one off her career best), nine rebounds, three blocks, and ended up 5-of-8 from 3-point range.
“Paula played with confidence and really gave us a spark when we needed it,” Lobos coach Mike Bradbury said in a postgame phone interview. “We did a nice job executing the offense early in the fourth quarter and got her some great looks. She definitely capitalized.”
Reus’s hot shooting helped the Lobos regain the momentum in a back-and-forth game, but the Lions (1-4) did not go away. Commerce dominated the glass, outrebounding UNM 49-35 and outscoring the visitors 22-4 on second-chance points. Post Laila Lawrence racked up 19 points and 12 rebounds to help keep things close, and Mia Deck hit two free throws to tie the score at 68 with 1:57 left.
Then the Lobos’ Duff twins took over. LaTascya scored on a drive to the basket to put UNM back in front and, after a defensive stop, LaTora hit a dagger 3-pointer to make it 73-68 with 54 seconds left. LaTora followed by going 4-for-4 from the foul line to help UNM seal its first road win in three tries this season.
The Duff sisters missed New Mexico’s previous game because of a death in their family. Bradbury was glad to have them back.
“Their experience and just the way they’re used to winning is big at the end of a close game,” he said. “The way the third quarter ended kind of set us on our heels, but I liked the way our team stayed poised and found a way to win a tough game on the road.”
LaTora Duff and Viané Cumber finished with 15 points apiece for the Lobos, while McGruder added 10 points, seven boards and four blocks despite being limited by foul trouble. Reus, Cumber and LaTora Duff combined to hit 10 of UNM’s 11 3-pointers.
Point guard Dyani Robinson scored 19 points for Commerce, which scored 46 points in the paint but was just 4-for-11 from 3-point range.
“I thought we played pretty good defense and did a nice job answering their runs,” Bradbury said. “I don’t know what to say about the rebounding except we have to keep working on that and we will.”