Rolling Lobos hope to avoid speed bump at Colorado State
We’ve reached the point in the University of New Mexico women’s basketball season where it’s not safe to look more than one step ahead.
In this case, Saturday afternoon’s visit to Mountain West Conference bottom feeder Colorado State is that next step. The Rams are mired in last place in the 11-team league and, up until the middle of this week, were considered little more than a speed bump for the top teams as the regular season nears its end.
Then a funny thing happened. The Rams erased a seven-point deficit in the final minute and a half against the MWC’s first-place Boise State Broncos, taking the game to overtime before losing. It put a charge into Boise and definitely got the attention of the Lobos.
Tipoff for Saturday’s game in Moby Arena is 2 p.m. One could hardly blame UNM for looking ahead. After this comes a Titanic Monday showdown with Boise State on the road.
It’s the only meeting of the regular season between the teams, and if form holds through the weekend, it will likely determine the top seed in the MWC Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev. Boise State is 22-4 overall, 13-2 in the Mountain West; UNM is 22-4, 12-3.
The fact that Colorado State nearly pulled off the huge upset comes as no surprise to anyone.
“You get down to this time and it’s just the way it is,” UNM head coach Mike Bradbury said. “Nothing, really, would surprise me.”
Off to the program’s best start since the 2004-05 team won 26 of its first 30 games, won the conference regular season and tournament titles and reached the NCAA Tournament, this year’s Lobos team is trying to remain as grounded as possible.
All-conference candidate Jaisa Nunn said it’s Bradbury’s nature to not let anyone look ahead.
“Every game is our focus and we don’t even talk about stuff like that,” she said. “It really is, like coach says, just one thing at a time. Next game, next practice.”
The Lobos could have taken their eye off the ball earlier this week against San Jose State, a team that’s challenging Colorado State for the bottom of the conference. Instead, the Lobos rolled to a school-record 110 points and a 38-point win.
“You can’t ever approach things like that,” Bradbury said. “I don’t care who you’re playing. We’ve proven we can lose to anybody. And we could probably beat anybody, but that’s kind of what our reality is.”
The UNM men will be at home against Colorado State on Saturday night. It’s dubbed as ’90s Night in The Pit, with in-game promotions hearkening back to what was a happier time for the Lobos and their fans.
Coming off what was arguably one of the worst losses in school history at San Jose State, UNM is 11-16 overall and 5-10 in the conference. Colorado State is riding a three-game win streak and has improved to 12-16 overall and 7-8 in the league.
All week, Lobos head coach Paul Weir has defended his team against critics who have questioned whether or not he has lost the team.
“I don’t think so,” he said at a Thursday news conference.
Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Women’s basketball: Saturday, New Mexico (22-4, 12-3 MWC) at Colorado State (8-18, 2-13), 2 p.m. in Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colo.
Live stream: Mountain West Network
Radio: KNML-AM 610
Live stats: www.GoLobos.com