Albuquerque, N.M. – The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team came out blazing hot, jumping out to a 20-6 lead after Tesha Buck drained a 3-pointer with 3:36 left in the first quarter and eventually took a 40-30 lead into the second half.
But the Lobos went cold in the final 20 minutes, going 6-for-27 from the field (22.2 percent) – including 3-for-18 (16.7 percent) from 3-point range – as they fell to UNLV 68-66 Wednesday night at Dreamstyle Arena – The Pit.
The loss snapped UNM’s (16-4 overall, 4-3 MW) 13-game home winning streak.
“There were two different halves there,” UNM coach Mike Bradbury said. “I thought in the first half we came out and competed. We were on the plus side of rebounding. Different story there for us (in the second half). They came out and played a little harder than we did in the first five minutes of the third quarter, and I thought those five minutes really shifted the momentum and changed the game. We couldn’t find a way to get a rebound in the second half.”
Despite the second-half shooting struggles, the Lobos rallied from what was a nine-point deficit to UNLV (9-7, 4-1) as a mini 6-2 run thanks to four free throws from Jaisa Nunn and two more from freshman Jasmine Smith– who made her first collegiate start – cut the Lady Rebels’ lead to 65-61 with 3:05 remaining in the game.
The Lobos sliced the lead to three when Cherise Beynon drained a 3-pointer from the wing with 2:33 left to make it 67-64 UNLV. Twice over the final two minutes the Lobos put up a game-tying 3-point attempt, only to see it go off the mark and UNLV sank a free throw to make it 68-64 with 13 seconds left. After another UNM 3-pointer was off the mark, Nunn grabbed the rebound and was fouled on the putback and sank both free throws to make it 68-66.
UNLV was put on the line and missed both free throws with 4.4 seconds remaining – but UNM’s desperation heave from 35 feet was off the mark and UNLV handed UNM its first loss at home this season.
“We weren’t focused coming out in the third quarter,” Beynon said. “We didn’t have the same energy that we had in the first half, and it turned around on us when we came out in that third quarter. … I take it upon myself that I didn’t get them prepared to come out in the third quarter because we know UNLV is a tough team.”
Alex Lapeyrolerie paced UNM with 19 points to go along with seven rebounds, Jaisa Nunn went 11-for-12 from the charity stripe and finished with her 10th double-double of the year with 15 points and 13 rebounds, Beynon had 12 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals, Buck had 10 points and Smith finished with eight, including going 2-for-2 from 3-point range.
Brooke Johnson led UNLV with 19 points, Katie Powell had 18 points and seven rebounds while Nikki Wheatley had 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
UNM finished the game shooting 36.8 percent from the field (21-for-57), including 30.3 percent from 3-point range (10-for-33). The Lobos were 14-for-16 from the free-throw line. UNLV shot 38.7 percent from the field (24-for-62), 8-for-25 from 3-poiont range (32 percent) and 12-for-18 from the free-throw line (66.7 percent).
UNLV outrebounded UNM 41-35 – including grabbing 13 offensive rebounds (though the Lobos led in second-chance points 13-9).
The Lobos return to action 2 p.m. (MT) Saturday when they travel to take on San Diego State.