Things finally went according to plan for the UNM women’s basketball team Tuesday night.
The Lobos pounded the ball inside at will in the second half and steadily pulled away for a 76-62 road victory over Air Force at Clune Arena.
Khadijah Shumpert collected 13 of her 19 points after halftime to help UNM (10-18, 5-12 Mountain West) snap a three-game losing streak. The Lobos went in planning to force the action inside and did, outscoring the Falcons 52-26 in the paint.
New Mexico also dominated the glass, out-rebounding Air Force 41-22.
“I’m happy for our players,” Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez said in a postgame phone interview. “They needed a win and they deserved this one. We knew the key was to go to work inside, and that’s how we won the game. The kids were very determined.”
Antiesha Brown had a strong outing with 17 points, three assists and four steals for UNM, but it was Shumpert and the front line that did most of the damage. Deeva Vaughn finished with 12 points and six rebounds, and Alexa Chavez chipped in eight points and seven boards off the bench.
The Falcons (1-26, 0-17) lost their 21st straight game but gave a spirited effort on Senior Night. Jimi Blagowski scored 20 points and Missy Byrd added 14 to keep Air Force competitive most of the way.
“Give Air Force credit,” Sanchez said. “They have a lot of injuries but they came to play. They weren’t about to give us this win.”
Air Force made just one 3-pointer but cashed in five three-point plays Tuesday. Sarah Fotsch’s three-point play tied the score at 18 with 8:28 left before intermission. UNM led 32-28 at halftime.
Lindsey Lewis’ layup pulled AFA to within 32-30 early in the second half, but that’s when the Lobos took control.
Shumpert scored seven points and Vaughn added six during a 28-11 surge that expanded the visitors’ lead to 60-41. All but two of New Mexico’s points during that span came in the paint or from the foul line.
Air Force made a final run, trimming the deficit to 67-58 with 3:40 left. But Bryce Owens sparked a 7-0 run that put it away for UNM. Owens had seven points, seven assists and just one turnover for the Lobos.