Joe Auletta @Lobo2x53
I was getting into a pattern this season: watch the game, get stressed, watch my blood pressure rise from the tip-off to the closing seconds. Auburn, Houston, Oklahoma. Not the best for my health, but great entertainment. With NMSU coming to town, and as tight as the rivalry games had been running, I was expecting more. Fifteen seconds in JUCO transfer and 6’2” post Adenike Aderinto sets a pick, rolls to the basket for an easy basket and a 2-0 NMSU lead. A minute later, same play, another easy basket and the Aggies are up 4-2. After Aisia ties it, Gia Pack hit a three to give NMSU their third lead of the game. Tension slowly starts to rise with memories of last season’s 101-93 game in Las Cruse last year.
Sixteen seconds later, Ahlise hits her first of three triples for the game. Tied. Less than a minute later, Jaisa is trailing the break, spots up at the top of the arc, and hits a three. Next possession, same result—Jaisa three pointer and Lobos are up six. Brooke salas, NMSU’s leading scorer, makes a jumper to stop the run momentarily, but for the last five minutes of the quarter the Lobos rip the Aggie defense for 15 more points making it a 24-5 run to end the quarter with a 28-12 lead. They shot 52% from the field and harassed NMSU into 3 of 16 shooting after the initial two Aderinto baskets. Nike and AT guarded Brooke Salas most the quarter and their length clearly bothered her. Jaisa led the Lobos with 11 points in the quarter.
From that point on, the Aggies looks out of synch, and often tentative. Aisia starts the second quarter in sprinter mode—time after time she races the ball down court, gives a quick change-of-pace step, and then flies untouched past two and three Aggies in the paint. At least four times she made defenders into spectators. The lead went up to 20 at 32-12, and it stayed in double digits the rest of the way.
In reality, the Lobos did not keep up the killer intensity during the third quarter as NMSU outscored them 15-13 in that period, but then the hungry Lobo subs added 25 more in the 4th (shooting a scalding 73%) for the final 83-58 final score.
As a team the Lobos dominated the boards in the first half, but Brooke Salas—who was only 5 for 17 shooting—started cutting into the rebound advantage in the second half; in the end, UNM was +5 for the game.
Neither team turned the ball over much—12 for UNM, 13 for NMSU—but the Lobos consistently ran and beat the Aggies down the court off turnovers or defensive rebounds or even made baskets. 40 or the Lobo 85 points were fast break points. Today, the Lobos were just faster.
Individually, Aisia had her third straight excellent game, leading UNM with 23 points (11 for 17 shooting) and 6 assists. Jaisa had a double-double with 13 & 10. Those 10 rebounds passed Lindsey Arndt for 7th place all time, and the points pass Katie Montgomery into 12th place.
Off the bench, AT played well with 5 rebounds (thought she should have been credited with more), 2 blocks, and 8 points—along with some solid defense in 19 minutes. Jaedyn and Madi also combined to give the guards some rest—they played well over 36 minutes: 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.
The reality is all 11 players who got in the game contributed. Ten scored, and though Nike didn’t score her D on Salas was a major part of the quick Lobo blitz that stunned NMSU.
Worth a quick note each were the performance of Bre and Shai.
Bre got a longer look with over seven minutes, including a stretch paired with AT, letting both Nike & Jaisa get some rest. Bre is a strong, relentless attacker on the boards, and seems to be gaining the coaching staff’s trust as her minutes slowly increase.
Shai is still working to earn minutes, but what she did in her 2:45 showed a little of what her potential is. Entered the game and 13 seconds later strips Kalie Atkinson near half court and flies down court for a layup. Guards Brooke Salas, Salas misses, Shai grabs a contested rebound under the basket—outlets the ball, gives about 6 people a 20 head start and then beats them all down the court and is waiting under the Lobo’s basket for the rest of the fast break to catch up. This is not the best post we have, but may well be the most athletic post we have ever had (and no, I have not forgotten Dionne, Kahdijah, or Porche).
Next up: more regional rivalry with UTEP arriving on Wednesday.