Lobo women look to keep up pace vs. Aggies

December 2, 2018

Slowing down is not an option for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team today.

Coming off back-to-back high-scoring wins over Houston and Oklahoma, the Lobos will try to keep up their momentum when Rio Grande rival New Mexico State makes its annual visit to Dreamstyle Arena for a 2 p.m. tipoff.

It’s not just a matter of avoiding a letdown after Wednesday’s emotional 84-80 victory over the Sooners, UNM coach Mike Bradbury said. Keeping the pedal to the floor is also essential against a stout Aggies defense that’s allowing just 53 points per game.

“We have to get the pace right in this one,” Bradbury said, “and that means fast. New Mexico State’s really good, especially on defense. We need to stay out of their comfort zone.”

Both teams come in sporting 4-1 records, though they’ve arrived there by different paths.

The up-tempo Lobos have faced full-court pressure for extended stretches in each of their last four games and they’ve generally handled it well. In spite of committing a few too many turnovers, UNM has scored often enough in transition to force defenses to back off.

Led by junior point guard Aisia Robertson, New Mexico has averaged 31 fast-break points and 80.6 points per game overall.

The Aggies, on the other hand, have been frustrating opponents with stingy half-court defense. NMSU has allowed more than 54 points just once ? in a 69-65 win at UTEP.

Perhaps fittingly, UNM’s lone loss came when it was outscored 79-76 at home by Auburn. New Mexico State’s only setback was a low-scoring 56-48 loss to 6-1 Abilene Christian.

Still, Bradbury knows the Aggies can hold their own in a shootout if necessary. NMSU’s leading scorers, Brooke Salas and Gia Pack, combined for 53 points in UNM’s 101-93 win in Las Cruces last season.

“Salas and Pack can play everywhere, too,” Bradbury said. “Inside, outside, whatever (Aggies coach Brooke Atkinson) needs them to do, and they can both really score.”

But pace won’t be the only significant factor in today’s contest, the first of two meetings between the teams over a two-week span.

“Rivalry game,” said Lobo sophomore Jaedyn De La Cerda. “We’re the only two Division I teams in the state, so it’s always really competitive. (The Aggies) won’t let up,and we can’t either.”

N.M. ROOTS: De La Cerda and NMSU junior Baylee Robinson, both from Roswell, are the only New Mexico natives on this year’s respective rosters. The two competed against each other in high school when De La Cerda played for Roswell High and Robinson played at rival Goddard.

HEAD TO HEAD: UNM won both of last season’s games against New Mexico State and leads the all-time series 50-26.

CLIMBING FAST: Lobo senior Jaisa Nunn’s 12 points against Oklahoma moved her into 13th place on the program’s career scoring list with 1,123 points. Nunn needs 13 points to surpass Katie Montgomery (2003-07) for 12th place and 20 points to climb over 11th-place Sonya Bryant (1996-2000).

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