The New Mexico women’s basketball team is looking for some positive momentum heading down the stretch.
With only five games remaining before the Mountain West tournament in Las Vegas, Nev., head coach Yvonne Sanchez said that she is not worried about her team’s ability to turn things around.
The Lobos (9-15, 5-6 Mountain West) have won just two of their past 10 games and sit in ninth place in the conference standings.
“If you work hard and play hard, something good is going to happen,” Sanchez said. “If they continue to do some of the things that they have been doing, fortune is going to turn.”
The Lobos pulled off a close win that was decided in the final minutes of the game against UNLV (10-15, 5-6 MW) on Wednesday night in The Pit. It was the first win for UNM at The Pit since its 80-68 victory over San Jose State on Jan. 11.
Sanchez said she hopes the win will give an added push that the team needs to finish off the season positively.
“It gives us a little bit of momentum hopefully finishing off this season and going into the conference tournament,” Sanchez said.
UNM has proven that, it can stay with teams, but has not been able to close out games. The Lobos’ inability to finish games showed up once again versus the Lady Rebels.
The Lobos struggled offensively in crunch time, turning the ball over and missing late free throws. However, UNM did not let that affect its play defensively. The Lady Rebels were only able to convert on one field goal attempt in the final five minutes of play.
Guard Antiesha Brown had the team-high 18 points, 16 of which came in the second half of the game. Brown said that her team had to take advantage of everything that UNLV would allow.
Even though UNM was not able to take advantage of UNLV’s foul trouble from the charity stripe, she said that their defensive play was remarkable, and they were able to stay out of foul trouble.
UNM sits dead last in the MW in free throw percentage at .638 percent.
“A lot of fouls have been called on our guards,” Brown said. “I think now that we have established our help-side (defense) very well, the guards get a little bit more leeway on the touching foul.”
UNM’s next game will be at San Diego State (9-14, 6-7 MW) in the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Aztecs have lost three of their last four games, the latest being a 79-69 setback at Utah State.
SDSU center Cierra Warren heads into Saturday’s game with the highest shooting percentage in the conference (.567 percent), and is in the top five in points per contest, averaging 14.8 per game.
The Aztecs rank first in rebounding margin in the MW ( 9.5), while the Lobos are second ( 5.7).
Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday in the Viejas Arena.