#AztecWBB Falls at New Mexico, 62-46
March 7, 2014
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The San Diego State women's basketball team dropped its final regular-season game Friday, falling to New Mexico by a 62-46 count at The Pit. The Aztecs were plagued by 27 turnovers on the night and scored just four free throws in the final eight minutes as the Lobos snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Scarlet and Black.
With the loss, SDSU slips to 12-16 overall and 9-9 in the Mountain West, while UNM moves to 11-18 on the year and 6-12 in conference play. Despite the setback, the Aztecs maintain the No. 6 seed in next week's Reese's Mountain West Championship, where they will face Air Force in the first round on Monday, March 10, starting at 7 p.m. PT.
SDSU was outscored by a 22-10 margin off turnovers and a 28-20 spread in the paint despite owning a 40-30 rebounding advantage, including a 26-16 edge on the defensive boards. The Aztecs tied their second-lowest output of the season with 44 field-goal attempts, connecting on just 16 baskets for the game (36.4 percent), and suffered from inconsistent free-throw shooting, posting a 10-16 effort at the charity stripe (62.5 percent).
The Lobos didn't fare much better from floor, sinking 23 of 61 shots (37.7 percent), but turned in a 12-for-14 performance at the free-throw line while maintaining a 20-10 advantage in second-chance points to help key their win.
Individually, SDSU was led by seniors Danesha Long (Long Beach, Calif.) and Cierra Warren (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), who tallied 13 points each, while junior Khristina Hunter (Fairfield, Calif.) reached double figures as well with 10 points. Long buried a trio of three-pointers, completing her third double-double of the season after grabbing 10 rebounds, while junior Chairese Culberson (Oakland, Calif.) pulled down six boards of her own to go with a career-high six assists.
The game began ominously for the Aztecs, who misfired on seven of their first eight field-goal tries, as the Lobos built a 15-5 lead in the first seven-plus minutes and did not look back. UNM gradually increased its advantage to 33-17, following a jumper by Antiesha Brown and a pair of free throws by Sara Halasz with 1:46 left in the half, before SDSU answered with five straight points on a Long trey and a layup by sophomore Deidra Smith (Aurora. Colo.) to narrow the gap to 33-22 by intermission.
However, the Aztecs could not sustain the momentum early in the second half, missing eight of their first 10 shots as UNM threatened to turn the contest into a run-away. When Halasz knocked down her second three-pointer of the night at the 12:45 mark, the Lobos reclaimed a 16-point bulge, 44-28.
Incredibly, SDSU fought itself off the ropes, cutting the margin to six on three occasions over the ensuing six-and-a-half minutes with a chance to pull within four each time. However, UNM came up with timely rebounds and baskets to thwart the Aztecs' comeback hopes.
After Long connected from beyond the arc to trim the deficit to 48-42 with eight minutes remaining, the SDSU defense forced an errant Lobo shot by Brea Mitchell; however, Brown grabbed a critical offensive rebound and followed with her own quick jumper.
Moments later, Warren sank two free throws and the Aztecs gained possession once again following a UNM turnover. Hunter was subsequently fouled facing backcourt pressure, but was called for a flagrant violation herself simultaneously trying to spring free from contact. The two sides sank both of their respective free throws, with the Lobos clinging to their six-point edge at 52-46 with 6:12 to go.
Shortly thereafter, SDSU was the beneficiary of a wayward UNM pass and looked to capitalize on the miscue on its next foray up the court. Culberson's jumper from the right wing was halfway through the net, but spun out as Warren came up with the offensive rebound. However, the Lobos' Bryce Owens made the play of the game with a critical steal, while Halasz promptly drilled a three-pointer to give the host school a 55-46 advantage and all but extinguish the Aztecs' rally.
UNM was led by Brown's 16 points and four steals; Halasz contributed 14 points and seven rebounds, while Khadijah Shumpert added eight points in the victory.
SDSU and UNLV tied for sixth place in the conference standings with 9-9 records. However, the Aztecs earned the No. 6 seed in the upcoming Reese's MW Championship thanks to their win at Fresno State on Jan. 15.