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Nevada visits for UNM?s ?Love Pink Game?

February 9, 2019

New Mexico?s ?Love Pink Game? today against Nevada will have a special meaning for guard Madi Washington.

Madi Washington and Jaisa Nunn had a little extra spring in their steps for Friday afternoon’s practice in Dreamstyle Arena.

It may have been the shoes.

Washington, Nunn and several of their UNM women’s basketball teammates got an early start breaking in the vivid pink shoes they’ll wear for today’s Mountain West Conference home game against Nevada. The players will also sport special uniforms and warm-up shirts for their annual Lobos Love Pink Game, which is held to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer in partnership with UNM’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

It’s an important game for New Mexico (18-3, 8-2), which comes in trailing first-place Boise State by one game in the MWC standings. The Lobos are coming off a disappointing 61-59 loss at San Diego State that snapped their six-game winning streak.

“We’ve got to learn from that one,” Nunn said, “because we obviously didn’t play very well. We’ve worked hard to fix some of the things we did wrong. Time to bounce back.”

Nunn and Washington said they were looking forward to this game long before they knew its significance in the Mountain West race. It’s especially meaningful for Washington, whose mother Kimberly is a breast cancer survivor.

“I’ll definitely be thinking about her,” Washington said. “My mom beat cancer my senior year in high school. She didn’t really talk about it because she didn’t want me to worry, but I went to the hospital with her and tried to be supportive. I knew what was happening.”

Washington made a point to accessorize her basketball uniform in her mother’s honor.

“I always wore something pink,” she said, “whether it was socks or a ribbon ? something. You can’t really do that in college so I look forward to this game that much more.”

UNM hopes to get fans to join the colorful theme and is offering $5 admission tickets (lower-bowl seating) for fans who are wearing pink at time of purchase. The Lobos drew a season-best crowd of 8,068 for last week’s win over Fresno State and they’re hoping for another large throng today.

New Mexico coach Mike Bradbury plans to don some sort of pink accessory for the game, but such considerations fell a distant second to preparing for Nevada (8-13, 4-6). The Wolf Pack has won three of its last four games and is just a few baskets short of ranking among the Mountain West contenders. Nevada’s losses include a two-point defeat to UNM, a one-point defeat to Boise State and two games decided in overtime.

“They’re honestly four baskets away from being 8-2 in conference,” Bradbury said. “They’ve got those bruising posts (including leading scorer Terae Briggs and Corrales native Kristin Dearth) and their guard play has steadily improved. This game will be a big challenge.”

Nevada effectively held Nunn, UNM’s leading scorer at 16.2 points per game, in check in the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 5. She spent much of the game in foul trouble and finished with a season-low five points. Point guard Aisia Robertson paced the Lobos with 21 points that day.

But Nunn has been dominant of late, posting four straight double-doubles including a 27-point, 11-rebound outing at San Diego State. She’ll have family in the stands today and expects the Lobos to be fully motivated.

“Nevada’s really aggressive and we’ve got to match that,” Nunn said. “Besides, it’s the pink game and we need to step up and honor the cancer survivors.”

Nunn then smiled and added, “It’s our one chance all year to wear something pretty.”

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