The Lobos lost to Nevada 74-64 in the first round of the Mountain West Tournament, and ended their season with a disappointing 15-17 record. The team’s biggest issue—inconsistent shooting—was evident again today.
The game was close until the last couple minutes when UNM had to attempt quick shots and foul the Wolfpack in an attempt to close a two possession deficit; it was not a 10 point game throughout. What it was, was exceedingly physical throughout.
Typically when games turned physical, the smaller Lobos would be outrebounded significantly. In this game, the Lobos held their own on the boards, and only trailed 49-46 in the final tally. While they did better than their norm rebounding, the turnovers were even at 17, a significantly worse mark for UNM, a team that committed 200 fewer turnovers during the season than their opponents.
But in the end, it was shooting. For three quarters the Lobos shot 33% from the field, and it was a one point game, 55-54 Nevada. But in the 4th quarter UNM shot only 4 for 19, and the game slipped away. The cold shooting actually started in the last few minutes of the third quarter with several missed layups, and the shooters never got back on track.
Jordan de la Cerda led UNM with 20 points before fouling out, but it was a bipolar 21. 7 of 11 on two point shots, but 1 for 10 on three point shots. 17 points in the first half, three in the second half. Ahlise Hurst, the Lobo leading scorer all season, was 2 of 13 from the field, and the wrap on her hand seemed to affect several of her shots as they were uncharacteristically far off target.
Imani Lacy led Nevada with 20 points—seven from the free throw line—and 17 rebounds. The Lobos could not consistently handle her on either end of the court.
Lobos had good games from Shai McGruder (6 points, but 17 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals). She actually deflected two other shots that were not credited as blocks. Many of the rebounds were in traffic, something she has had trouble with earlier in her career. This was the last in a string of several energetic, productive games Shai has had to end the season.
Antonia Anderson added a 10 & 10 double double, also getting two blocks.
Corina Carter played 22 minutes and pushed the pace on offence better than she was doing early in the season. Her stat line was not big (7 points, 1 assist) but the assist total in particular could have been larger if the Lobo shooting was better. She put several passes into the shooter’s hands, but the shot was missed.
With the MWC tournament earlier than usual, this season ends earlier. The next questions will be the roster building and changes for next season. The Lobos have six open scholarships, and four identified incoming players. Turnover on NCAA teams is increasing, so it is reasonable to expect the coaches will be trying to add a few other new names as well. The biggest needs for 2020/21 would look to be an experienced post player, and a consistent outside shooter or two.