Disputed call, 2nd-half collapse doom Lobo basketball women - Albuquerque Journal

Disputed call, 2nd-half collapse doom Lobo basketball women

San Diego State’s Sarah Barcello, left, defends New Mexico’s Shaiquel McGruder during Thursday’s game in San Diego. (Courtesy of San Diego State athletics)

It’s fair to say Thursday’s women’s basketball game at San Diego State’s Viejas Arena turned on a matter of inches.

A controversial late call proved critical as the host Aztecs came from behind for a 65-61 victory over the University of New Mexico in a hard-fought matinee contest. The whistle took LaTascya Duff’s go-ahead 3-pointer off the board with 1:18 remaining – she was ruled to have stepped on the sideline – and the Lobos would not score again.

Officials reviewed the play, which occurred in front of UNM’s bench, but the lone available camera angle from the opposite side of the arena was inconclusive. Lobos coach Mike Bradbury, who was standing a few feet away from Duff, disputed the call.

“Clearly inbounds,” he said in a postgame phone interview. “Everyone on our bench could see it – inbounds.”

The call came with SDSU holding a 63-61 lead that lasted until Asia Avinger hit two clinching free throws with 3.2 seconds left. Avinger finished with a game-high 21 points.

Pivotal as it was, the call on what would have been Duff’s sixth 3-pointer of the game was not what ultimately sunk the Lobos (10-9, 2-4 Mountain West). UNM did not score in the game’s final 4:02, turning the ball over five times down the stretch, and ultimately squandered a 13-point third-quarter lead.

“San Diego State started switching everything on screens and we just turned it over too much,” Bradbury said. “The turnovers in the last four minutes were mostly unforced. Just disappointing.”

The finish was made all the more deflating by how well UNM had performed for most of the game. The Lobos hit 11 3-pointers and frustrated San Diego State (15-5, 5-2) with tight perimeter defense. The Aztecs started 0-for-9 from 3-point range.

New Mexico took advantage, steadily building a lead. Two late baskets by Aniyah Augmon gave the Lobos a 21-15 edge after one quarter, and a Shaiquel McGruder 3-pointer stretched it to 33-21 midway through the second.

McGruder, who did not score in Saturday’s loss at UNLV, had 15 points and 10 rebounds Thursday.

UNM led 38-29 at halftime, getting good balance from its offense, and by 44-31 on two LaTascya Duff free throws at the 7:54 mark of the third quarter. McGruder and Paula Reus had 10 points apiece and Augmon scored seven, but that trio accounted for just five points in the second half.

“I thought we lost a little aggressiveness in the second half,” Bradbury said. “We weren’t as sharp on our cuts on offense and we fouled too much on defense.”

SDSU hit four straight free throws during an 8-0 run late in the third quarter to trim UNM’s lead to 47-46.

The Lobos bounced back, getting a pair of Duff 3-pointers (she finished with 16 points) and a McGruder 3-point play to lead 59-52 midway through the fourth quarter, but UNM’s offense fizzled from there. SDSU’s Sophia Ramos, who had been 0-for-6 from 3-point range, finally hit one to tie the score at 59, capping a 7-0 run.

It was 61-all when Avinger scored off a UNM turnover to put the Aztecs ahead with 2:57 left, the final field goal of the game.

New Mexico at SDSU WBB Box Score(2) by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd

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