Lobo women get to scoreboard-watch on Saturday

February 23, 2019

UNM’s Antonia Anderson (32) takes off on the fast break with Nevada’s Jade Redmon in pursuit during their Feb. 9 game at Dreamstyle Arena -- the Pit. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Sundays are typically days of rest for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team. March 10 will be no exception.

The Lobos’ 74-56 victory over Utah State on Wednesday ? combined with other results around the Mountain West ? assured that UNM will not be involved in the conference tournament’s play-in round on March 10. The top five finishers in the 11-team league earn byes to the March 11 women’s quarterfinals, and UNM (21-4 overall, 11-3 MWC) can do no worse than finish tied for fourth place.

(Click here for league standings.)

Of course, coach Mike Bradbury and his team have higher aspirations. UNM goes into Saturday’s open date in second place, two games behind Boise State (21-3, 12-1) in the loss column and a half-game ahead of third-place Wyoming (17-5, 10-3) .

First place is still a possibility for the Lobos, but they’ll need help. UNM plays at Boise State on March 4, and a win would give the Lobos a potential tiebreaker edge because the teams play just once this season. But the Broncos would have to lose another game down the stretch for UNM to forge a tie, and Boise State’s closing schedule (at Utah State, at Colorado State, UNLV, UNM, at Air Force) is favorable.

If Boise State avoids any potential upsets, New Mexico, Wyoming and Fresno State (17-8, 10-4) likely will be battling for position until the final night of the regular season. UNM hosts Wyoming for senior night on March 7.

“There could be a lot riding on that one,” Bradbury said, “but only if both teams take care of business between now and then. You can’t take anything for granted in this league. We have to keep improving.”

Wyoming faces a key game Wednesday when it hosts fourth-place Fresno State (17-8, 10-4). It’s essentially a must-win for the Bulldogs if they are to remain in top-three contention.

Bradbury doesn’t mind a little speculation with four games left on his team’s schedule. He’s not particularly concerned about potential quarterfinal opponents just yet, but UNM’s coach says he much prefers to finish with a top-three tournament seed.

“The four-five game is the worst place to be in the (tournament) bracket,” he said. “You start against a good team that probably has very similar talent and, if you survive that game, you probably play the No. 1 seed the next day. I’d much rather avoid being fourth or fifth.”

UNM’s upcoming schedule affords it a good opportunity to secure a top-three seed. The Lobos host San Jose State on Wednesday before traveling to Colorado State. The Spartans and Rams are tied for last place with 2-11 Mountain West records.

In the meantime, Bradbury and his staff are making use of the season’s final open date.

“We’re spending three days of practice just working on what we do,” Bradbury said. “We’re adding some sets and a few new wrinkles for the stretch along with just cleaning some things up. We won’t start preparing for San Jose State until Monday.”

The schedule does include one day of rest on Sunday.

ZONE-BUSTER: Antonia Anderson matched her career high with 13 points on Wednesday, extending a recent run of strong performances. In UNM’s last six games the sophomore has averaged 10 points per contest, many of them coming on midrange jumpers when opponents employed zone defenses.

“That’s my spot right now,” Anderson said. “Hopefully, I continue to make those shots.”

STILL CLIMBING: With 15 points scored Wednesday, senior Jaisa Nunn increased her career total to 1,448. She recently passed Amy Beggin (1,428 points from 2006-10) for seventh place on UNM’s all-time list. Nunn needs 94 points to surpass Jean Rostermundt (1,541 points from 1977-80) for sixth place.


Women: San Jose State at UNM

7 p.m., 610 AM/95.9 FM, themw.com