The New Mexico State women were cruising along. It was home at the Pan American Center Saturday afternoon trying to avenge the 77-58 Friday night setback against state-rival University of New Mexico.
The Aggies had led from the start, closing the opening quarter with a 19-13 lead and staying ahead 39-31 at halftime. After the intermission, they remained in front, and increased it to 56-44 heading into the final quarter. No sweat, the home crowd had plenty to cheer about as the fourth quarter began.
And it sure looked good after 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Taylor Donaldson of State began the quarter with a short jumper, but after that the Lobos regrouped, and after they forced a 60-60 tied that lasted almost two minutes, they just took over, taking their first lead at 63-60 on a 3-pointer by 6-2 guard Antonio Anderson.
From there they turned up the pressure, took command underneath, and this resulted in a 73-66 win that silenced the home crowd. It was UNM’s eight triumph in 11 starts, a 3-game winning streak, and the Aggies dropped to 3-4.
Wheres NM State senior forward Bique Saar, a transfer from Oklahoma State, led all scorers with 2 points and brought down a game-high 11 rebounds, the visitors relied more on balance as four players scored in double figures and were led by 16 points each from 5-7 senior Joedyn De La Cerda and 5-7 senior LaTora Duff.
Then there was the other Duff, 5-7 senior LaTascyn, tossing in 14 points and 6-foot senior Shaiquel McGruder adding a dozen. That accounted for 57 points and 6-1 freshman Paula Reus turned in nine.
Even the comeback was all teamwork. In the last quarter. the Duff sisters tallied eight points each, Anderson contributed six, McGruder four, and Ruiz tossed in a three from beyond the arc.
The Lobos were out rebounded, 41-34, but that was because of the inside play of the Aggies in the first half. They made good on six of 15 attempts from beyond the arc and shot 49.1 from the field, with State at 38.8 percent. Turnovers were many, with the Aggies committing 24 and the Lobos 18.
UNM played without team captain Ebony Walker, who was suspended indefinably after being arrested and accused of assaulting her boy friend.
The next stop for UNM is at Arizona Tuesday night, while New Mexico State is off until it plays at Weber State on the afternoon of Dec. 18.