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New Mexico hands Y. women rare home loss

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New Mexico's Julie Briody, left, and BYU's Melinda Johnsen dive for a ball during the Lobos' overtime win in Provo on Saturday.

New Mexico’s Julie Briody, left, and BYU’s Melinda Johnsen dive for a ball during the Lobos’ overtime win in Provo on Saturday.

Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News

PROVO — The BYU women's basketball team lost its inside presence late, lost its composure in the final minutes, lost Saturday's overtime game to New Mexico 80-75 and lost its undefeated-at-home status this season in the Marriott Center.

What the Cougars (17-6, 8-2) didn't lose was its Mountain West Conference lead, now a half-game margin as BYU embarks on a three-game road trip.

Meanwhile, fifth-place New Mexico (17-7, 7-4) posted its first-ever same-season road sweep of Utah and BYU, having gone a combined 5-of-49 in Salt Lake City and Provo before this week.

In beating Utah 73-65 Thursday, New Mexico erased a 13-point deficit with 10 minutes to go. Saturday, the Lobos rallied from nine down with 12 minutes remaining to force OT and then upset the Cougars.

"We got off to a slow start, so we had to make up some ground," said New Mexico coach Don Flanagan, whose Lobos' 0-3 MWC start included home losses to BYU and Utah. "This definitely helps us — not many people are going to come in here and beat BYU."

Saturday's battle achieved preseason billing, with the Lobos picked by a slight margin over BYU to win the regular-season title. Both teams' featured players all scored 20 points or better.

Preseason MVP Dionne Marsh logged a game-high 27 points, including 17-of-22 from the line, as the Lobos converted on 32 of 40 free throws.

"You can't put a team on the line 40 times in a game and expect to win," said BYU coach Jeff Judkins, adding of Marsh, "you can't give somebody 22 foul pitches — you just can't."

Katie Montgomery, another Lobo preseason all-MWC pick, contributed 22 points.

Mallary Gillespie, the MWC player of the week, led BYU with 24 points and six 3-pointers. Dani Wright, the Cougars' all-league preseason selection, scored 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting, teaming with fellow frontcourter Lauren Riley (18 points, 8-of-10 FG, 11 rebounds) for a powerful inside presence.

Behind Wright's and Riley's combined 19 points, the Cougars led 34-29 at intermission, with Gillespie's 3s upping the advantage to 49-40 with 12 minutes remaining.

The Lobos drew to within two five times in the final seven minutes, as BYU seemed to weather the storm, leading 66-62 with 1:31 left on Gillespie's two free throws. But the Lobos hit four free throws while the Cougars were unable to counter, forcing OT at 66-all.

"We had some key possessions in the last minutes of the second half that were a little loose and we let them back," Gillespie said.

In overtime, BYU led 72-69 with two minutes remaining, but an Angela Hartill jumper and an Amy Beggin trey resulted in a 74-72 Lobo lead, with the foul-plagued Cougars unable to execute inside or out to draw any closer.

Riley, whose five fouls came guarding the quicker Marsh, said "she's good at flopping," adding that in hindsight, "I'd start off more aggressively and not let her get anything."

E-mail: taylor@desnews.com