The UNM women's basketball team will travel to face Wyoming for a chance at another three-game winning streak on Saturday.
New Mexico (9-8, 5-2 MW) seems to have found its rhythm again. After dropping back-to-back games, the team has rebounded to win two in a row, most recently taking a 75-68 home decision over Boise State on Wednesday.
But Wyoming (14-3, 6-0 MW) has been rolling its opponents. The Cowgirls have won eight straight, all by double-digit margins, including six straight to start conference play to earn the top spot in the Mountain West standings. Wyoming also played Wednesday, punishing San Jose State 89-60.
The Lobos hold a 39-31 all-time lead in the series history, but both schools have dominated on its home floor. Wyoming is 23-11 against New Mexico in Laramie, Wyoming, where the Cowgirls pulled out a 66-48 victory last season.
Head coach Mike Bradbury shook up the starting lineup last game, inserting Alex Lapeyrolerie and Jaisa Nunn into the mix. He said he felt the move was necessary to put his five best scorers on the court, and it seems likely that trend will continue.
Lapeyrolerie led the team with 18 and Nunn provided 14 points against Boise State. And their shooting may be necessary again for the Lobos to keep pace with the Cowgirls.
The offense for both teams has been potent, with each scoring an average of 69.3 points per game. But Wyoming has surrendered just 54 points to opponents, over nine points better than New Mexico.
Wyoming's biggest threat seems to be Liv Roberts, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding. She has averaged 16.0 points and 7.6 boards per game so far this season and can hit from both inside and out.
Three-point shooting could be a major factor in determining the winner. Wyoming has four players on the team that hit the long ball at a rate of 42 percent or better and make nearly 40 percent as a team.
New Mexico has struggled from beyond the arc at times this season, connected on just 28.3 percent of its attempts. But Lapeyrolerie and junior guard Cherise Beynon both have the ability to heat up.
Beynon has led the Lobos in scoring at 15.5 points but gets plenty of help from her teammates, as the team has five players that average in double figures.
The Lobos have
Winning the battle on the boards has proved to be important and usually translates to a win. But New Mexico has gone 0-6 in games in which the team was outrebounded.
Senior center Richelle van der Keijl has been the biggest contributor on the glass, pulling down 10.1 per game. Senior forward Kianna Keller has averaged 7.1 rebounds, but those numbers could decline if she comes off the bench as expected.
But rebounding has been a team effort for the Lobos this season, with four players hauling in seven or more per game.
If the game is tight down the stretch, Wyoming has been a much better free throw shooting team. The Cowgirls have converted about 77 percent of its attempts, while the Lobos hit at about a 61 percent rate.
Although Beynon came big at the line in the previous game, sinking four in a row from the charity stripe to stave off a Bronco comeback bid.
Saturday's game is scheduled to air at 2 p.m. on the Mountain West Network and can be heard on 610 KNML.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers football and men’s and women’s tennis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @robert_maler.