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Lobo women’s opponent ‘plays like the Warriors’

December 19, 2018

Bringing some buzz to the basketball court is what the Sacramento State Hornets are all about.

The University of New Mexico’s opponent for Wednesday night’s opening round of the Lobo Invitational women’s basketball tournament brings non-stop action and a no-conscience approach to its games. Sacramento State lets the ball fly on offense, presses on defense and takes its chances from there.

Entertaining? You bet.

Lobo point guard Aisia Robertson admitted she even enjoyed watching the Hornets in video study.

“They kind of play like the (Golden State) Warriors,” Robertson said. “They like quick-release 3s, and if they get you off your feet, they drive it. I love fast-paced basketball like that.”

The Hornets’ style can pay off as it did in a wild 109-107 win over Illinois this season. It can also fizzle, evidenced by a 109-60 loss to UC Davis.

Either way, the Hornets’ all-or-nothing approach is enough to make opposing coaches like UNM’s Mike Bradbury anxious.

“They’re going to come after us, that’s what they do,” Bradbury said. “But we are going to play fast, too. Whoever does it better probably wins.”

UNM (8-1) probably won’t try to win a long-range shootout against Sacramento State (3-3), which hoisted 57 3-point shots in its win over Illinois and averages more than 41 per game. But the Lobos will try to make the Hornets work for their 3s.

“We have to be really aware of their shooters,” Robertson said. “We haven’t really played a team like this all season. The good news is, we get to attack the press and run. This style is just as much fun for us.”

Sacramento State averages 85.8 points per game, while the Lobos come in averaging 79.3. Both teams also rank among the national leaders in rebounds, but Bradbury says some numbers can be misleading.

“It’s really just about the number of possessions,” he said. “When you have a ton of possessions you’ll have more 3s, more rebounds, more everything. I expect a ton of possessions in this game.”

UNM and Sacramento State will tip off at roughly 7 p.m., 30 minutes after the conclusion of the 4:30 p.m. tournament-opener between Hampton and Stephen F. Austin. The winners will meet for the tournament title on Thursday.

The Lobos will be released for a holiday break after Thursday’s game, and Robertson wants to go home on a festive note.

“It’ll either be an early Christmas or the Grinch coming to town,” she said. “You know which one we want.”

HOMECOMING: The Lobo Invite is an early homecoming for Sacramento State freshman Sarah Abney, a Las Cruces High School alum. Abney, the daughter of Bulldawgs coach Matt Abney, is averaging 5.8 points in 17.8 minutes per game for the Hornets.

THE FIELD: Stephen F. Austin comes to Albuquerque with a 7-2 record and an RPI ranking of 85. Chanell Hayes leads the Lady ’Jacks in scoring at 15.6 points per game. Hampton (4-3) is paced by Laren VanArsdale (16.7 points per game).

NATIONAL NOTES: UNM climbed to No. 20 in the NCAA RPI rankings on Monday but slipped to 27th after previous opponent Houston lost. The Lobos are one of four Mountain West teams among the top 100 in RPI. Wyoming is 51st, Boise State is 90th and Fresno State is 92nd.

The Lobos also earned a bit of notice in this week’s Top 25 coaches’ poll, picking up three points for an unofficial ranking of 36th. UNM did not receive votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

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