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Junior guard Caroline Durbin passes by Boise State’s Kati Isham for a shot attempt Feb. 4 at The Pit. The Lobos lost 68-64. The women’s team tries to win back-to-back conference games for the first time this season.

Recovered bench ups morale

The women’s basketball team will attempt do something it hasn’t done all MWC season: win two conference games in a row.

After beating Wyoming on the road last Saturday 60-57, UNM (8-15, 2-7) takes on San Diego State tonight at home after losing to the team 77-47 the first time they played each other this year.

Head coach Yvonne Sanchez said the team is much different now than the first time it played the Aztecs.

“It’s been incredible, when we watch film from the first time we have played teams and then we play them the second time around, we’re just a different team,” she said. “It’s nice to see the improvement. They still want to do well and they still want to win.”

UNM started off conference play with six straight losses, but has won two of its last three games and has regained previously injured key players.

Senior guard Nikki Nelson said the team’s return to full strength has really been a major reason for its recent success.

“We have had to battle through injuries,” she said, “But our team has done really well rallying and working hard no matter who is sitting out or not able to play.”

SDSU (18-5) currently leads the MWC with an 8-1 record, but Nelson said that record doesn’t matter because the Lobos are a different team since the last time these two met.

“I think we have come leaps and bounds from the last time we played San Diego State,” she said. “We want to really finish strong so going into the conference tournament we have a lot of momentum.”

The last time these two teams played, UNM turned the ball over more than 20 times and SDSU scored 38 points off the turnovers.
Sanchez said the team needs to limit its mistakes this time around if it is going to have a chance to win.

“Be physical, box out and limit our turnovers — that’s the biggest thing,” she said.

In recent years, UNM has had one of the best home crowds in the country and Sanchez said the crowd may play a factor in the game.
“They are going to come in here and it’s going to be a tough environment,” Sanchez said. “If we take care and clean up some things and as long as we keep it close and put ourselves in that position the last four or five minutes, we have a shot.”

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UNM is led by junior guard Caroline Durbin, who leads the team in points with 15.7 points per game. Durbin scored a career-high 29 points in her last game against Wyoming.

The road win over Wyoming was UNM’s first since it beat New Mexico State on Dec. 30. Sanchez said the win will certainly bring the Lobos more confidence in the final five games of the regular season.

“We played really well,” Sanchez said. “We moved the ball well and did a lot of good things on offense and defense. It’s one of those things that brings us momentum to play this week.”

Women’s Basketball vs San Diego State
Wednesday, 7 p.m.
The Pit

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