PROVO -- Turnovers and free throws proved to be the difference Thursday night in the BYU women's basketball team's 78-70 loss to New Mexico. The loss drops the Cougars into fourth place in the Mountain West Conference.
BYU could not hold onto a five-point halftime lead as the Cougars were outscored 51-38 in the second half. New Mexico chipped away at BYU's margin and eventually tied the game at 39-39 with 15:08 to go. Trailing 41-43 with 11:59 to play, sophomore All-American Erin Thorn hit two three pointers and Jennifer Leitner made another over the next minute to go up 50-45. The Lobos responded with a run of their own, outscoring BYU 33-20 the final 11 minutes. Thorn led the Cougars with 19 points, including five three pointers while Caroline Beus had 14 points and six rebounds. Leitner chipped in nine points and Heather Cheesman had eight. BYU shot 8-15 from the free throw line and had 18 turnovers for the game, while the Lobos shot 23-32 from the line and had 10 turnovers, with only one in the second half.
"We just didn't have the same energy level tonight," BYU coach Trent Shippen said. "The big difference was free throws and turnovers. We got to take care of the ball and make better decisions."
New Mexico had four players in double figures. Molly McKinnon led the way with 18 points while Miranda Sanchez and Susan Bocock had 11 points a piece.
With the loss, BYU's record drops to 15-11 (7-6) on the season, while New Mexico improves to 17-10 (8-5) on the year. BYU will play its final regular season game against Air Force Saturday at 7 p.m., in the Marriott Center.