The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team managed to weather one major storm Thursday night.
A second one proved too much to handle.
Mountain West Conference-leading UNLV rocked the Lobos with two impressive scoring surges at the Pit and pulled away for a 93-75 victory in front of an announced 4,736 fans. The Rebels buried 14 3-pointers, got 19 points and 10 rebounds from post Desi-Rae Young and at times looked almost unstoppable on the offensive end.
Five players scored 12 points or more for UNLV (21-2, 11-0), which won its 12th consecutive game. Justice Ethridge scored a game-high 20 points and netted four of her team’s 3-pointers.
“They were just hitting everything,” UNM senior Amaya Brown said. “I felt like we did OK defensively, they just kept hitting shots.”
Sign up for our free Daily Sports newsletter
Brown, LaTora Duff and Paula Reus scored 15 points apiece for the Lobos (13-10, 5-5), who also had five players reach double figures. UNM hit eight 3-pointers and shot a respectable 45.6% from the field, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
“Offensively we were fine,” Lobos coach Mike Bradbury said, “We just couldn’t stop (the Rebels). Early especially, I thought they did a great job passing out of the double team and moving the ball. They found the right person to shoot, and it seemed like they made them all.”
Along with its dazzling offensive performance, UNLV once again silenced UNM’s leading scorer. Forward Shaiquel McGruder failed to score (0-for-5 shooting) in 19 minutes before sitting out much of the second half. McGruder, who came into the game averaging 14.7 points per game, has been shut twice by the Rebels this season.
Bradbury was at a loss to explain McGruder’s ineffective offense, opting instead to play Viané Cumber (9 points) and Reus in the post for long stretches.
At times it hardly seemed to matter who UNM had on the floor as UNLV’s shooters simply could not miss. Booker and Ethridge combined to hit five 3-pointers in the game’s first 14 minutes as the Rebels raced to a 41-23 lead. UNLV hit eight of its first 11 3-point tries.
To their credit, the Lobos battled back and got the crowd buzzing before halftime. LaTora and LaTascya Duff, Cumber and Aniyah Augmon all hit 3s during a 21-6 surge that trimmed UNLV’s lead to 47-44 at intermission.
“Honestly, I think it was just effort,” Reus said of the comeback. “Then (the Rebels) started hitting everything again.”
UNM twice got as close as a one-point deficit in the third quarter, but the Rebels would not be denied. Young scored 10 points in the third quarter, Ethridge and Booker hit 3s and UNLV steadily rebuilt its lead to 74-61 by quarter’s end.
Two UNM turnovers early in the fourth resulted in an 8-0 UNLV run and the visitors were content to simply trade baskets from there.
LaTascya Duff finished with 11 points, and Augmon added 10 with a team-high five rebounds before fouling out. Booker scored 17 points for the Rebels, who ended up with a 35-27 advantage on the boards.