On Wednesday, the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team will host the Boise State Broncos, in a battle of the final two remaining teams unbeaten in Mountain West play.
Boise State, so far this season, has posted an 8-5 record and a perfect 2-0 record in conference play. The Broncos’ first win in conference play came at Colorado State, a game they won 62-58, and their most recent win was against UNLV at home, where they won 69-60.
For the Lobos, their most recent wins, both in Mountain West play, came on the road against Air Force, where they won in decisive fashion, 88-59. At home against Nevada, a game UNM was down by as many as 12 points rallied back with a big third quarter to win, 72-68, to move the team to a 14-1 record overall.
Last season, the Broncos posted a 2-1 record over UNM. The Lobos’ lone win came at home, and their losses came on the road in Boise and the conference tournament opener in Las Vegas—a tournament the Broncos went on to win. Overall, UNM trails Boise State 6-10. And at Dreamstyle Arena, the series is split 3-3.
This season, sophomore guard Riley Lupfer has been Boise State’s most potent score. Averaging 13.3 points per game so far this season, she ranks 12th in scoring in the Mountain West overall.
Junior guard Marta Hermida is the Broncos’ only other double digit scorer, as she averages 10.2 points per game. Not only that, but Hermida has been present on both ends of the court—especially in rebounding. Standing at 5-11, Hermida is the Broncos’ second most efficient rebounder, bringing down 6.1 rebounds per game.
And that’s one thing the Lobos will have to try to suppress come Wednesday, as the Broncos average a healthy 42.7 rebounds per game, while also posing the largest rebounding margin in the conference—a healthy margin of 8.8 more rebounds than its opponents.
On the other hand, the Lobos have also been rebounding well, though they’ve given up just as much as they’ve brought down. So far this season, UNM has been averaging 42.1 rebounds per game, second best in the conference, though they have given up an average of 43.5 rebounds per game, which ranks on the lower end of the scale in the conference’s rebounding margin category.
But UNM, record wise, is still the best in the Mountain West—and also the best, statistically speaking.
Besides having three players atop the conference in scoring in senior guards Tesha Buck (15.9 ppg) and Cherise Beynon (15.2 ppg), as well as junior post Jaisa Nunn (14.6 ppg), the Lobos lead the Mountain West—by a large margin—in scoring offense.
In 15 games this season, UNM is averaging 85.5 points per game, usually holding its opponents to 70.4 points per game—a 15.1 margin in victory, which is also the best in the conference. The next best in the Mountain West is San Jose State, who is averaging 71.4 points per game.
But the Lobos’ high octane offense is due to their flexibility in scoring. Not only can the usual trio of Buck, Nunn and Beynon go off, others like senior guard Alex Lapeyrolerie, a starter, and freshman guards like Madi Washington and Jasmine Smith can fill in on offense when others are stagnant.
Boise State, though, is no slouch. Known for their defense, the Broncos allow teams, on average, to score around 59.8 points per game. With their length and skills on the glass, the Broncos can be UNM’s toughest challenge in the conference yet.
For the Lobos to come out victorious, controlling the rebounding category must be of key necessity.
Tip-off for the Boise State-UNM matchup is on Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. at Dreamstyle Arena. The game will be streamed live on the Mountain West a 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 email@example.com or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.