Lobo women’s Robertson is out with ACL tear
New Mexico’s Aisia Robertson, right, shown in action last Dec. 5 vs. UTEP, is out for the rest of this basketball season with an ACL tear. (Jim Thompson/Journal)
The University of New Mexico Lobos don’t yet know their opponent for Monday’s Mountain West women’s basketball tournament quarterfinals, but they will have to face some adversity.
Starting point guard Aisia Robertson suffered a torn left ACL during Thursday’s regular-season finale against Wyoming and will miss UNM’s postseason. Robertson said an MRI exam Saturday morning revealed the injury.
“I wasn’t sure it was an ACL,” she said, “but it was really painful. It’s frustrating, but I’ll be in Las Vegas cheering for my team. I’ll do what I can.”
Despite Robertson’s injury, the Lobos appeared determined and relatively upbeat throughout Saturday’s practice at the Rudy Davalos Center. Coach Mike Bradbury said sophomore Jaedyn De La Cerda will start in Robertson’s place and will share the point guard duties with freshman Jayla Everett.
“We all hated to see A.R. go down,” Bradbury said. “She’s a tremendous player and she’s had a great year.
“That said, this team’s good enough to win with whoever we put out there. Expectations haven’t changed. We still plan to win the Mountain West tournament.”
Robertson, a junior transfer from Kansas in her first season as a Lobo, averaged 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and an MWC-best 6.6 assists per game. While Bradbury is confident his team can adjust without Robertson, the Lobos cannot immediately replace her speed.
“Our style of play won’t change,” Bradbury said. “We’ll just have to do things at a little different pace.”
De La Cerda, who has been the first guard off the bench for UNM, has spent more time at shooting guard than at the point this season. She has run the offense at times, however, and says she’s ready for the upcoming challenge.
“It’s not that different for me,” De La Cerda said. “I just have to take care of the ball and work to set up my teammates. It’ll be different without A.R. but I think you have to be confident as a team to win a tournament. We are confident.”
UNM (24-5, 14-4) is the No. 2 seed for this week’s tournament and will face the winner of tonight’s play-in game between seventh-seeded San Diego State and No. 10 Air Force. The Lobos left for Las Vegas, Nev., on Saturday evening. The tournament will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
In addition to altering the starting lineup UNM has employed for its last 26 games, Robertson’s absence will change the Lobos’ substitution pattern. With that in mind, freshmen Quincy Noble and Shaiquel McGruder received extra work with the starters at Saturday’s practice.
“Depth is important when you’re trying to win a tournament anyway,” Bradbury said, “but the bench will be big for us now, no question.”
Senior Jaisa Nunn said she’ll miss having Robertson in the lineup but believes UNM’s younger players will take advantage of the opportunity.
“We have a lot of people on this team who can step up to the plate,” Nunn said. “This is our chance to pull together and do something special.”
MWC tournament Las Vegas, Nev.:
(2) UNM vs. (7) San Diego State/(10) Air Force winner, 7 p.m., 610 AM/95.9 FM, themw.com