New Mexico women change the ending, make it happier vs. San Diego State - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico women change the ending, make it happier vs. San Diego State

UNM’s Aniyah Augmon jumps for joy after the final buzzer sounds as the Lobos defeaedt visiting San Diego State Saturday afternoon at the Pit. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)
Albuquerque, New Mexico/Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal

One might say the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team learned its lesson.

After watching a hard-earned lead slip away against in their first meeting with San Diego State this season, the Lobos got a bit more protective Saturday.

Aniyah Augmon and Paula Reus scored 17 points apiece, the Lobos hit 8 of 10 free throws in the final 1:05 and an announced crowd of 5,143 went home happy after UNM earned an 83-78 victory on Lobos Love Pink day at the Pit.

Saturday’s script played out much like one from the teams’ Jan. 17 meeting in San Diego, with UNM holding a lead for nearly the entire game. The difference was the ending.

SDSU (18-7, 8-4 Mountain West) put on a late run to steal a 65-61 victory at Viejas Arena. On Saturday, the Lobos (14-10, 6-5) maintained their lead for the game’s final 37:36.

The biggest difference?

“We just stopped them today,” Reus said. “We played good defense and got rebounds — we were plus-five (35-30 on rebounds) and that was our goal. We didn’t give them so many chances this time.”

UNM also excelled on the offensive end, shooting 56.9% from the field and putting up 83 points against an SDSU defense that came in allowing an MWC-best 55.7 points per game. It was the most points surrendered by the Aztecs in a game this season.

“San Diego State is a really, really good defensive team,” Lobos coach Mike Bradbury said. “We were very efficient today and shot the ball at a high rate — both teams did. It was a good, hard-fought game.”

Each team had four players score in double figures, with Viané Cumber (16 points) and LaTora Duff (13 points, eight assists) posting big games for UNM. San Diego State’s Sophia Ramos extended her string of good performances against New Mexico with a game-high 21 points.

The Lobos got off to the faster start, reeling off 15 straight points to grab a 15-4 lead midway through the first quarter. Cumber drained a pair of 3-pointers during the run — the second from well behind the arc — to help energize a lively, primarily pink-clad crowd. Cumber went 4-of-6 from 3-point range overall.

Lobo Shaiquel McGruder (left) leaps and tries to bounce the ball off San Diego State’s Mercedes Staples near one end line to maintain possession Saturday afternoon at the Pit. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

UNM led 27-17 after a quarter and by as many as 17 points (45-28) in the second, but the Aztecs found ways to stay in the game. Yummy Morris scored 18 points in the paint, and Mercedes Staples hit five 3-pointers, including one to beat the first-half buzzer and trim UNM’s lead to 45-31.

The teams traded scoring runs in the third quarter, with Augmon and Shaiquel McGruder combining for 11 of UNM’s 17 points. McGruder did not score in the first half, extending her drought to six consecutive quarters, before breaking through with seven points in the third.

SDSU’s offense heated up in the fourth quarter, sparked by three Ramos 3-pointers, and the visitors trimmed New Mexico’s lead to single digits on several occasions. But Reus hit a pair of key baskets, and the Lobos hit enough free throws to preserve the win.

The Aztecs scored five points in the final 19 seconds to make the final margin closer.

UNM did an effective job shutting down SDSU point guard and leading scorer Asia Avinger, who went 1-for-7 from the field and scored six points. The Lobos also capitalized on Augmon’s quickness as she beat the defense on several drives to the basket.

“Aniyah’s been doing this for a while now,” Bradbury said. “She’s just very aggressive and uses that to her advantage.”

Augmon grinned when asked about her increased role since Mountain West play began.

“I’m the Energizer Bunny,” she said, “just put in the batteries and go. I think the team kind of needs that sometimes and that’s my role.”

Added Reus, “That’s what she does best.”

THURSDAY: UNM women at Boise State, 6:30 p.m., 610 AM/95.9 FM

SDSU-UNM Final Box by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd


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