The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team will continue its quest to advance in the WNIT on Tuesday evening when it hosts the Rice Owls at the Pit in the second round of the tournament.
Previously, the Lobos evaded a late comeback attempt from senior guard Stella Beck and Saint Mary’s at Johnson Center by coming up clutch in the final moments of the game. Some of those moments included — but not limited to — UNM freshman guard N’Dea Flye hitting two key 3-pointers down the stretch.
In the end, New Mexico grabbed an 82-80 victory, behind a game-high 33 points from senior guard Cherise Beynon.
The Owls are also coming off of a first-round WNIT win at home, beating Texas State by a score of 71-60. Rice was able to garner the win thanks, in part, to a double-double performance from Erica Ogwumike, who posted 27 points and 10 rebounds.
Ogwumike, Rice’s 5-9 guard, has been the team's leading scorer, averaging a healthy 17.5 points per game.
Junior post Jaisa Nunn and Beynon have been steady scoring threats for the Lobos all season, and have are No. 1 and No. 2 scorers on the team to this point.
Nunn has averaged a team-high 16.8 points per contest — pouring in 16 points against Saint Mary's last week — while Beynon registered just a clip below at 16.7 points per game.
The Lobos have shot 42 percent from the field overall as a team and have been proficient from beyond the arc — where UNM has connected on 34.2 percent of its attempts. The 3-point line could be a big factor in Tuesday's matchup as New Mexico has averaged about nine long-range makes per game.
Rice has posted nearly identical numbers and is also a threat from the outside. The Owls have made about 44 percent of its shots as a team — including 36.4 percent from 3-point land.
Although the Owls are a slightly better 3-point shooting team than the Lobos in terms of percentage, they don't rely on the shot as heavily. Rice has made an average of 8.3 shots from 3-point range per game, paced by junior guard Nicole Iademarco’s team-high 73 3's so far this season.
The tempo at which the game is played could also be a contributing factor to which team wins the game. UNM has scored an average of 80.2 points per game — playing at a fast rate on both ends of the floor. While Rice, which puts up 65 points per contest, will likely want to slow things down.
The winner of matchup between New Mexico and Rice will move on to face the TCU Horned Frogs in the third round of the WNIT. The Horned Frogs Missouri State in its second round matchup on Saturday night, cruising to an 86-51 victory.
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.