A furious finish
Record setting block party, 3rd quarter run spark UNM
Lobo women dominate second half, rout Texas State
It wasn’t a matter of going to Plan B — just doing a better job executing Plan A.
That was the story for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team in Friday night’s season-opener against Texas State. After scratching their way to a two-point halftime lead, the Lobos blew the Bobcats out of Dreamstyle Arena in the final two quarters.
Aisia Robertson scored 17 points and sparked a 21-2 third-quarter run that lifted UNM to an 82-51 victory in a first-round Women’s National Invitation Tournament matchup. Nike McClure racked up six of New Mexico’s single-game team record 16 blocks, several of which started transition opportunities. UNM finished with 45 fastbreak points.
“What team doesn’t get hyped over a block?” Robertson said. “It was great watching my teammates swat balls all over the gym.”
Friday’s win earned UNM a second-round
home game against Auburn on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Tigers rolled to an 80-59 win over Nicholls State on Friday.
Before turning their focus to Auburn, several Lobos took a moment to enjoy their first official game at the Pit. That included McClure, a graduate transfer from Washington State who had four points to go with seven rebounds and six blocks.
“Oh, my gosh!” McClure said when asked about a boisterous crowd announced at 4,585. “Let me say that Lobo fans are now my favorite people in the world — right up there with mom and dad. You hear about what it’s like at this place and it did not disappoint.”
Robertson, who spent last season on the bench after transferring from Kansas, echoed McClure’s sentiments.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “Whenever the Pit gets rocking, our energy just goes off the charts. Being out there instead of on the bench just makes it that much better.”
UNM had a tough time getting the crowd revved up in the first half, thanks in large part to foul trouble and some chilly perimeter shooting. Texas State, which got a game-high 18 points from guard Toshua Leavitt, led 16-14 after a quarter and trailed just 29-27 at halftime.
Part of the Lobos’ problem was that senior post Jaisa Nunn spent most of the first half watching with two fouls. UNM became a bit too willing to settle for 3-point shots and went 3-for-13 from long range in the first half.
The second half was completely different. UNM’s guards began pounding the ball inside to Nunn and/or driving to the basket. It paid off handsomely as the Lobos opened the third quarter with a 33-4 tear that energized the fans and staggered Texas State.
Jaedyn De La Cerda cashed in backto-back fastbreak layups to make the score 40-29, and Ahlise Hurst later buried a 3-pointer to make it 52-31.
“We didn’t change anything,” Lobo coach Mike Bradbury said. “They just kept playing and did it better. Having Jaisa out there obviously made a difference, though. You can’t throw it to her when she’s on the bench.”
Robertson stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 17 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, three steals and two blocks. She also had 10 turnovers and threatened to complete a rare quadruple-double before Bradbury emptied his bench with 4:30 left.
“I’m obviously happy with the points and assists,” Robertson said, “but not with 10 turnovers. I think maybe I tried to thread the needle a few too many times.”
Nunn finished with 14 points, while starters Jayla Everett and De La Cerda scored 11 and nine, respectively. Freshman Shaiquel McGruder impressed off the bench, collecting six points, 13 rebounds, four steals and two blocks in 17 minutes.
Lobos guard Aisia Robertson, right, blocks a shot by Texas State’s Bailey Holle during Friday’s UNM win in Dreamstyle Arena - The Pit.
Lobo forward Nike McClure celebrates after blocking one of her six shots on Friday night against Texas State. UNM had a team-record 16 blocked shots.