After defeating a very capable Western Michigan team for their season opener last Friday, New Mexico will once again have their hands full when they face No. 17 Marquette on Monday evening at Dreamstyle Arena, marking the second meeting between the two teams in the last two seasons.
Just a season ago, the Lobos (1-0) made a visit to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they fell to the Golden Eagles (0-0) 62-52.
This time, though, Marquette will open their season on the road as they visit Albuquerque, to face a Lobos team that is on the up after winning their season opener.
For New Mexico, three players managed to score in double digits against Western Michigan, in senior guards Cherise Beynon (24 points) and Tesha Buck (22 points), as well as junior forward Jaisa Nunn (18 points).
“I’m excited. I’ve played Marquette before and am familiar with some of their players,” Buck said. “I think it’s good for us to see a talented team like that early in the season. We’ll come out ready to play.”
Not only that, but Beynon also flirted with a triple-double, tagging along nine assists and eight rebounds.
But Marquette poses a potent threat to this New Mexico team, as they return four starters from a season ago — which includes the Big East Preseason Player of the Year in junior guard Allazia Blockton, who averaged 17.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game last season.
The other three returning players from last season for the Golden Eagles includes junior guards Danielle King and Natisha Hiedeman, as well as junior forward Erika Davenport. All three averaged in double digits in scoring, too.
Last season, Marquette averaged 78.8 points per game, while shooting 46 percent from the field. They also shot 34.2 percent from beyond the arc.
For the Lobos, in their first game this season, they shot 45.3 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from 3 — nearly the same as Marquette’s season averages last year.
In last season’s matchup between the two teams, the Lobos manages to hold Blockton to only six points, a feat not many accomplished.
But it is unfair to compare last year’s Lobo team to this year’s. Just a season ago, when Bradbury had two large post players in Richelle van der Keijl and Kianna Keller, the team didn’t push the pace like this team does — with this season’s post players being on the smaller side in size. In the first two exhibition games, including the season opener, New Mexico has gone with a four guard set, ultimately helping them move the bail at a faster pace.
When asked what her team can improve on before the Marquette game, Buck kept it simple.
“I think everything,” Buck said. “I think overall we can be better at everything. But, you know, like coach and Cherise (Beynon) said, I think we need to be better at guarding the ball. That will take away a lot of fouls and mismatches and rebounding mishaps.”
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Dreamstyle Arena. The game will also be broadcasted live on the Mountain West Network.
Matthew Narvaiz is a senior sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers baseball, and men’s and women’s basketball. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.