A stunning victory over undefeated Pac-12 opponents Arizona State was within reach for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team on Sunday.
The Lobos couldn’t believe it.
After outplaying the Sun Devils for much of the second half, UNM saw their chance for a win in the final minutes of an 83-77 overtime loss in the pit. It was the second overtime loss in five days for the Lobos (1-3), who dropped a 73-64 decision in New Mexico State on Tuesday.
Shaiquel McGruder accumulated 24 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks for UNM, who also received 29 combined points from twins LaTora and LaTascya Duff.
LaTora had the chance to happily send home an announced crowd of 4,848 by firing an open 3-point try from the right of the button in the final seconds of regulation for a 73-point tie. But their shot rattled, and UNM only managed one field goal and four total points in overtime.
The Sun Devils got 24 points from Tyi Skinner and essentially parlayed offensive rebounds and free throws to a win. ASU (4-0) had 19 offensive boards and 19 second chance points and finished 22 of 26 from the foul line. UNM had five second chance points and went 13 of 20 from the foul line, with five penalties in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“We missed some big ones,” said UNM coach Mike Bradbury. “Free throws are usually not a problem for us. We also gave up too many offensive rebounds, which sometimes happens, but we had four, five, maybe six that you can’t give up. Those were balls that were in our hands and were taken away from us.”
Aside from the final result, Sunday’s game had almost nothing in common with UNM’s away game in Las Cruces. New Mexico executed its offense effectively, limiting the much larger Sun Devils to 38% shooting and having an excellent opportunity to pick up a late rule win.
The Lobos were leading 67-63 and 2:57 to go, working LaTascya Duff free for a wide open 3-pointer. She missed, but McGruder grabbed the rebound and passed to Viané Cumber for another wide-open 3. She also missed.
“Absolutely, that felt like a turning point,” said UNM coach Mike Bradbury. “If either of them goes in, I felt like that might be enough. Unfortunately not.”
UNM hit back, getting 3 points from Cumber, Paula Reus and LaTascya Duff en route to reduce the lead to 36-33 by halftime. ASU extended their lead to 44-37 in the third, but LaTora Duff scored eight points during an 11-0 run that gave the Lobos a 48-44 lead.
New Mexico amassed a 23-3 advantage in fast break points and led most of the fourth quarter but just couldn’t pick up enough late shots or free throws to knock out ASU.
“I really liked our execution,” Bradbury said. “We didn’t always get the result we wanted, but we improved on offense today and did what we had to do. We just have to keep working and hopefully get some more shots.”
LaTascya Duff finished with 16 points for the Lobos, while LaTora Duff had 13 points (all in the second half) and 10 assists. Cumber added eight points and Nia Johnson scored six from the bench.
BOX RESULT: Arizona State 83, New Mexico State 77 (OT)