New Mexico Lobos Women’s Basketball – On The Mountain West Road.
Saturday: New Mexico 76, San Jose State 73
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
On the road, a gut-check is not an unexpected hurdle for a traveling team to confront. At San Jose State – or more specifically at the De Anza Community College – the New Mexico Lobos ran into a huge gut check after being outscored 19-4 to start the second half.
The Lobos answered, cleared the hurdle, and rallied for a dramatic 76-73 Mountain West victory Saturday that snapped a five-game UNM streak prior to New Mexico heading to Laramie to play the Wyoming Cowgirls.
“We are bringing back a win,” said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez, who saw her team move to 8-12 and 3-6 in league play. “That was a hard-fought effort. I’m proud of the way we closed the game out. I’m proud of our kids.”
The Lobos had scratched to a 42-36 halftime lead behind the scoring of Khadijah Shumpert (12) and Sara Halasz (10), but San Jose threw out an 19-4 run that pushed them up 55-46. The Spartans were playing well and the Lobos weren’t, but then the fight came out in Sanchez’s pack.
“We had to dig ourselves out of a little bit of a hole,” said Sanchez. “We were down nine, but we had plenty of time.”
A Shumpert layup at the 5:28 mark allowed UNM to reclaim the lead at 63-62. The Lobos never again trailed but it was tooth-and-nail to the finish line.
“It’s a good win and it’s fun to feel this way again,” said Sanchez. “Winning on the road in this league is not easy.”
A big play for UNM came with 34 seconds to play, up 76-73, and Shumpert at the line shooting two. She missed both but UNM got the board and called time with 33 seconds on the game clock and 29 seconds on the shot clock.
“Our intention was to hold the ball so they would foul us, but they didn’t foul us (right away),” said Sanchez.
Bryce Owens launched up a trey and missed and the Spartans had eight seconds to get off a trey and hope for overtime. They missed.
“It was kind of an ill-advised shot,” Sanchez said of Owens’ bomb. “But Bryce is playing at a fantastic level. I have no complaints about Bryce.”
The Lobos got 16 points and eight boards from Shumpert and 11 points and 10 rebounds from Deeva Vaughn. Antiesha Brown had 13 points and Sara Halasz had 18 points to lead UNM on the scoreboard. UNM shot 42.6 percent from the floor and out rebounded San Jose State 48-to-34.
“Kianna Keller comes in off the bench and gets nine rebounds. That’s terrific,” said Sanchez. UNM had 21 offensive boards to nine for San Jose State. UNM had 23 turnovers to 21 for the Spartans, but UNM’s ball handling improved in the final four minutes.
The Lobos had to play at De Anza Community College in Cupertino, Calif., because the San Jose State gym had been rented out for a concert.
“Once the game started,” said Sanchez, “I had no idea where we were.”
Second Half: San Jose State 37, New Mexico 34
The Lobos came out of the halftime break shooting 0-of-5 from the floor and San Jose State moved from a 42-36 halftime deficit into a 43-43 tie at the 16:32 mark. Woodberry, who did not play in the first half, put San Jose State up 46-43 with a trey at the 15:00 mark.
The Lobos’ 20th turnover over the game led to two Spartan free throws and a 52-45 Spartan lead. At the 11:48 stop, San Jose State was up 54-46. UNM had been outscored 18-4 in the second half.
The UNM offense then got rolling. The Lobos ran off four straight to make it 55-50, but UNM also watched Shumpert go to the bench with four fouls and Brown limping to the sidelines after UNM’s 22nd turnover. Halasz scored for UNM, but Smith made an old-fashioned 3-point play at 9:38 to make it 59-52.
At the 7:23 media break, two buckets by Vaughn had the Lobos close at 59-57. UNM had 23 turnovers at that stop and San Jose State had 17. Ball handling and free throws likely would be a key down the stretch run.
Vaughn hit two at the line to tie the game at 59-all and two San Jose State turnovers and a Shumpert layup finally gave UNM control of the scoreboard at 63-62. The Spartans now had 20 turnovers. Halasz scored to make it 65-62 and the UNM senior got a steal but missed on her drive and San Jose State pulled to 65-64 using the line.
At the 3:47 mark, San Jose State had four players with four fouls and had pushed their turnover count to 21. UNM was up 65-64. Vaughn used the line to bump UNM 66-64, missed the second, but UNM got the board and another score: 68-64. Woodberry hit a trey for San Jose State but Brown scored for the Lobos: 70-66.
Owens hit a big trey for UNM handing the visitors from Albuquerque a 73-68 lead and the Spartans called time with 2:01 to play. San Jose State scored to cut it to 73-70, but Brown hit one at the line: 74-70. The Spartans hit a big trey of their own – 74-73 – but Brown scored inside: 76-73.
San Jose called time with 58 seconds to go, down three (76-73). The Spartans missed. Brown missed for UNM, but Shumpert got fouled on the follow with 34 ticks to go
She needed to drop one but missed them both, but Brown got the long board. UNM called time with 33 seconds to play and 29 on the shot clock. Owens missed a trey but San Jose State did the same at the other end and the Lobos had their first Mountain West road win.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.