The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team will host Navy at Dreamstyle Arena on Sunday afternoon, hoping to continue its streak of perfection.
With a win over Navy, the Lobos (10-0, 0-0 MW) can tie the longest win streak in the team’s history at 11 straight, which has been accomplished on a couple of occasions. UNM won 11 games in a row during the 1996-97 season and again during the 2003-04 season.
But picking up that win probably won’t be an easy task. Navy, which has played nine games so far this season, is also undefeated—including wins over Air Force and North Dakota State, amidst the run.
Navy’s most recent victory came against Richmond—a game Navy won by 20 points.
Similar to the Richmond game, most of Navy’s wins have been by large margins. So far this season, it has been outscoring opponents by an average of 19.8 points per game.
The Midshipmen are also scoring a lot of points to help the cause, putting up 74.6 points per game. The bulk of the scoring load has been shouldered by a trio of scoring threats.
Navy has three players who are averaging double digits in scoring per game, one of whom hasn't made a single start yet this season. The bench has been outstanding, scoring at least 20 points in every contest after it failed to do so in the season opener—and erupted for 47 points against St. Bonaventure.
Senior guard Taylor Dunham has led Navy in scoring, averaging 13.3 points per game, while sophomore guard Morgan Taylor has been a huge threat off the bench, scoring 11.7 points in just 19.9 minutes of playing time per game, to rank as the team's third-best scorer.
The Midshipmen also has senior guard Hannah Fenske, who has scored 12.9 points per game, thanks to her skilled shooting. She’s been a prolific threat from 3-point land this season, hitting 24-of-50 shots from long range.
Shooting 3-pointers has seemed to be infectious for the team and another key ingredient in the team's winning formula. Navy has attempted a whopping 237 shots, an average of more than 26 per game, from beyond the arc—nailing 34.6 percent of them.
Much like Navy's opponent on Sunday, the 3-ball has been a central theme for New Mexico as well. The Lobos have connected on 40.1 of their 257 attempts from distance to stretch the floor.
UNM senior guard Tesha Buck has shined the brightest from range. Buck is the second-leading scorer for New Mexico at 15.6 points per game—with most of her damage coming from behind the 3-point line, where she is 33-for-69 on the season. And it doesn't appear she will be slowing down anytime soon.
But Buck hasn’t been the only bright spot for UNM, as things have been a team effort—bench and all.
The Lobo offense is potent. Senior guard Cherise Beyond has led the team in scoring with 17.7 points per game and junior post Jaisa Nunn has averaged 14.4 per contest. But scoring the ball has not been the only area in which the team has excelled.
Defensively, UNM has forced 18.1 turnovers per game thanks to its fast-paced, high-octane presence on the floor. In most games, the Lobos have been the faster team on the court, which is the main reason they have been able to force so many turnovers.
The rebounding battle between UNM and Navy will be interesting to see, as both teams are averaging around 42 boards per game. The teams seem to be evenly matched—at least on paper—in terms of roster size as well as record, so fans could be in for good game.
Tip-off for Sunday’s game is at 1 p.m. and can be viewed live on the Mountain West Network.
Matthew Narvaiz is a senior sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s and women’s basketball, and baseball. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.