An eye-catching win over unbeaten Pac 12 foe Arizona State was well within the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team’s grasp Sunday.
The Lobos couldn’t grab it.
After outplaying the Sun Devils for much of the second half, UNM saw its opportunity for a win slip away in the closing minutes of an 83-77 overtime defeat at the Pit. It was the second overtime loss in five days for the Lobos (1-3), who dropped a 73-64 decision Tuesday at New Mexico State.
Shaiquel McGruder racked up 24 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks for UNM, which also got 29 combined points from twins LaTora and LaTascya Duff.
LaTora had a chance to send an announced crowd of 4,848 home happy, firing an open 3-point try from right of the key with the score tied at 73 in the closing seconds of regulation. But her shot rattled out, and UNM managed just one field goal and four total points in overtime.
The Sun Devils got 24 points from Tyi Skinner and basically parlayed offensive rebounds and free throws into 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 misses coming in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“We missed some big ones,” UNM coach Mike Bradbury said. “Free throws are not normally a problem for us. We also gave up too many offensive rebounds, which happens sometimes, but we had four, five, maybe six that you can’t give up. Those were balls that were in our hands and got taken away from us.”
Other than the final result, Sunday’s game had almost nothing in common with UNM’s outing in Las Cruces. New Mexico executed its offense effectively, limited the much-taller Sun Devils to 38% shooting and had a prime opportunity to lock up a win late in regulation.
Leading 67-63 with 2:57 remaining, the Lobos worked 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,” UNM coach Mike Bradbury said. “If either one of those goes in, I felt like that might do it. Unfortunately, they didn’t.”
UNM fought back, getting 3-pointers from Cumber, Paula Reus and LaTascya Duff on its way to trimming the deficit to 36-33 by halftime. ASU rebuilt its 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 for most of the fourth quarter but simply could not hit enough late shots or free throws to put ASU away.
“I thought our execution was really good,” Bradbury said. “We didn’t always get the result we wanted, but we improved on offense today and did what we needed to do. We just have to keep working and hopefully make a few 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 off the bench.
BOX SCORE: Arizona State 83, New Mexico State 77 (OT)