By Greg Archuleta
UNM Assistant Director of Communications
The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team had its share of heroes Wednesday night. Boise State’s heroes were just a little bit better.
Yaiza Rodriguez scored 13 of her career-high 24 points in overtime, and the Lobos suffered from poor free throw shooting, turnovers at critical times and a key offensive foul early in overtime that allowed the Broncos to escape The Pit with an 86-80 victory.
“It might (just) be a growing year,” UNM coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “We don’t want it to be, but it might be just because in a lot of respects they just lack the experience that most teams that we’re playing now have. We’re having those growing pains, but these are good kids.”
The Lobos (8-14, 3-8 Mountain West) scored the first two points of the extra session to take a 67-65 lead to cap an 8-0 run, but the Broncos responded with a 7-0 run for a 72-67 lead with 3:26 left in overtime.
Deeva Vaughn hit two free throws to cut UNM’s deficit to 72-69, and grabbed a rebound off a Boise State miss. Vaughn headed upcourt when Rodriguez ran up to harass her.
Vaughn stopped her dribble and tried to protect the ball by swinging it over Rodriguez’s head. Rodriguez went down on the play as the officials called a flagrant foul on Vaughn. The officials reviewed the play and ruled that Vaughn struck Rodriguez above the shoulders. The Broncos (14-9, 9-3) were awarded two free throws and the ball.
“I thought it was a huge turnaround because we had the ball,” Sanchez said. “Deeva had the ball; she stopped her dribble. She did everything she was supposed to do. She turned to pivot and look for Bryce (Owens). (Rodriguez) is right underneath her. I didn’t see her throw an elbow. … All she did was make a basketball play. It was just one of those plays that makes or breaks you.”
Rodriguez hit the two free throws and then hit a jumper to extend the lead to 76-69. UNM never could get closer than four points the rest of the way.
The result overshadowed a fantastic finish by UNM to force overtime.
Boise State led 65-59 with less than a minute left when Sarah Halasz hit a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left. The Lobos forced a Broncos miss, Antiesha Brown found Vaughn at the top of the key and Vaughn hit another 3 with two seconds left to force overtime.
Shumpert scored 18 of her career-high 22 points after halftime, including the first eight Lobo points of the second half, helping UNM slice a 40-27 deficit to 48-40 with 13:16 left.
Then Chavez had an assist, a baseline jumper, a key save to prevent a turnover and a steal that helped the Lobos close to a 50-46 deficit with 10:37 left in regulation.
“We just know we have to build and continue working hard,” Chavez said. “We work every day in practice and we come out fighting in the game. We do have those times when we don't have those spurts, and we have to work our way out of holes.”
UNM could have been closer but missed five of nine free throws in the second half to that point.
The Broncos then went ice cold from the floor, missing 6 of 7 shots from the field, including two layups. The Lobos got back-to-back second-chance points from Brown, who had 14 points before fouling out, and Chavez, who finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds to cut Boise State’s lead to 57-56.
Shumpert, who was just 10 of 18 from the foul line for the game, hit 3 of 4 from the stripe to give the Lobos their first lead since the opening moments of the game, 59-57 with 5:33 left.
Unfortunately, it was UNM’s turn to become stagnant offensively. The Lobos committed five turnovers and missed two shots on their next seven possessions, and Boise State’s Deanna Weaver, who scored a career-high 33 points, hit two free throws to cap an 8-0 Broncos run to give the visitors their 65-lead.
UNM committed 21 turnovers in a game that also included 60 fouls and seven players fouling out. Three Lobos and four Broncos were disqualified.
“It is really hard being out there when you're in the heat of the moment and it does seem like everything is a foul,” Shumpert said. “It was a tough one because we definitely wanted to win."
New Mexico shot a respectable 47.5 percent from the floor (28-of-59) but made just 19-of-36 on free throws Wednesday night. The Lobos were 21 of 23 a week ago at Wyoming.
“When you don’t make free throws, you don’t win games,” Sanchez said. “Why we shoot 91 percent on the road and 52 percent tonight is just mind-boggling.”
Boise State’s 29-for-35 performance from the line made up for its 37.9 percent shooting (25-of-66).
The Lobos had no answer for Weaver’s offense in the first half. She was instrumental in helping the Broncos build a nine-point lead midway through the first half and later scored the final points of the first half to give Boise State’s its biggest lead, 38-27.
Weaver had 17 first-half points on 6-of-11 shooting.
After spotting the Lobos a 5-0 lead, the visitors went on a 25-11 run to take a 25-16 lead with 10:27 left on a pair of Weaver free throws.
The Lobos then stiffened defensively and went on an 8-0 run, capped by Owens’ 3-pointer with 6:07 left in the half.
The Broncos answered with a 13-3 run to end the first half, Weaver accounting for six points down the stretch.
Brown had seven points and Vaughn six, but the Lobos hurt themselves with 6-of-13 free-throw shooting – after going 21-for-23 from the line at Wyoming last Wednesday. UNM also committed nine turnovers to BSU’s six.
The Broncos also held a 21-17 edge in rebounds, contributing to their 11-point halftime bulge. The Lobos held BSU center Miquelle Askew, who had 34 points in the Broncos’ last game against Utah State, scoreless.
She fouled out without scoring Wednesday night.
Vaughn added 11 for the Lobos, but also fouled out.