Nov 23 – Victory #300 turned out to be memorable after all.
With just eight players in uniform, the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team made the most of an unusual Tuesday night in the pit to end a frustrating two-game losing streak with a 93-57 win over Western New Mexico.
It was UNM coach Mike Bradbury’s 300th career win, and it didn’t come as expected.
With two starters (LaTora and LaTascya Duff) and two reserves (Aniyah Augmon and Mackenzie Curtis) unavailable, the Lobos (2-3) had to patch up some odd formations but ultimately made it through against the overwhelmed Mustangs (1-3). Roll.
The Duff twins missed Tuesday’s game due to a death in their family, while Augmon and Curtis were both out due to illness.
“Obviously it was a little different for us with the players we had,” said Bradbury. “Things like that happen over the course of a season and you have to deal with them, but in the short term I felt our players did a good job.”
Viané Cumber had a big night for the Lobos with a career-high 22 points in 6-of-8-3-point shooting. Nia Johnson (18 points) and Jaelyn Bates (11 points, eight assists) filled out the extended duty well.
“(Cumber) and I took this game really seriously tonight,” Johnson said. “With players missing, we had to step up and get back on track. It feels good to get the opportunity to show what I can do.”
Bradbury has credited his assistant coaches and players for his milestone win over the years, but said it wasn’t at the forefront of his mind. Cumber thought differently.
“We really wanted to have something to celebrate,” she said. “We did that with (Bradbury) in the dressing room. After two games in overtime we had to have the right mentality tonight and kind of turn the page.”
Western New Mexico made the most of its pace early on and kept things competitive for most of the first half. Sydney Wright, who scored 20 points for the Mustangs, hit back-to-back 3s early in the game to give WNMU a 6-0 lead.
But the Lobos soon shifted into gear, finishing the quarter on a 23-5 rise to finally take the lead. Cumber hit a pair of 3-pointers, Amaya Brown scored six points and the hosts looked ready.
However, WNMU fought back and came into halftime after a Diamond Moore basket 33-25 with just 4 minutes to go. A 3-pointer and a steal and layup by Bates in their first collegiate start extended UNM’s lead to 42-28 at halftime.
The second half was all UNM. Cumber and Johnson sparked a surge in the third quarter that extended the Lobos’ lead to 66-40 and ended any tension over the result.
All eight in-uniform Lobos scored, five of them in double digits, and the hosts went into the Thanksgiving holiday on a positive note.
Shaiquel McGruder finished the tournament with 14 points and five blocks for UNM, while Brown added 10 points and Hulda added nine points and six rebounds to Joaquim.
Women: UNM at Texas A&M Commerce, 1 p.m., 610 p.m./95.9 FM