The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team went to Fort Collins on Saturday and took care of business in a wire-to-wire victory over the last-place Colorado State Rams with a 79-56 victory to set up a showdown with Boise State on Monday that will effectively decide the Mountain West regular season champion.
“We kept our focus where it was supposed to be and played hard for 40 minutes,” head coach Mike Bradbury told the Albuquerque Journal. “You always worry a little about letting down but our players did a good job. Our defense forced 15 turnovers and we ended up with 10 more shots than CSU. I’m happy with that.”
The Lobos jumped out to an early lead and were up by ten less than five minutes into the game, forcing an early timeout from CSU head coach Ryun Williams. The timeout jump started the Rams who quickly cut in to the deficit and got it down to three, 16-13, before the Lobos got their feet back under them. At the end of the first, UNM lead 20-15 behind 50 percent shooting from the field and seven points from Jaisa Nunn.
The second quarter was a similar story, with the Lobos continuing their hot shooting from the field and increasing their field goal percentage to 53 percent before halftime. UNM was able to limit CSU leading scorer Lore Devos to only nine points. Myanne Hamm lead the Rams with 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting. Tatum Neubert was the most efficient Ram, going 5-for-8 from the field on her way to 13 points.
Nike McClure finished with four points and 11 rebounds, including a pair of boards where she was swarmed by four CSU players, but still managed to come away with the ball. She was also the primary defender on Devos, and Bradbury gave her much of the credit for limiting Devos.
“Nike was outstanding defensively,” Bradbury said. “She has the size and quickness to bother (Devos), which really gives us an advantage against Colorado State.”
UNM could only manage to score 10 points in the third quarter, shooting a meager 13% from the floor, which allowed the Rams to close the deficit to as few as nine, but CSU couldn’t get any closer the rest of the way.
Up next, the Lobos travel to Idaho to take on the Boise State Broncos (23-4, 14-2 MW) on Monday, March 4 at 7 p.m.. It will be the fastest turnaround for the Lobos in a pair of road games all season, and with arguably the most on the line.
The Broncos beat UNLV at home on Saturday 53-38 to setup the showdown with UNM. It is the only meeting between the two teams this season due to the Mountain West’s uneven schedule. Braydey Hodgins is the Broncos leading scorer, averaging 12.7 points per game.
As a team, BSU averages 75 points per game, second only to UNM (77 points per game).
“Every game is different, and they’re a very, very formidable opponent,”Boise State head coach Gordy Presnell in the Idaho Statesman. “But this group went to Wyoming and won last year a league championship, so I think we’d rather play here at home.”
The Broncos are looking to defend last year’s title, and to add to the weight of the contest, it will also be senior night for BSU.
“I know they’re very, very well coached, and they’re going to walk in here like a WNBA team, he said of the Lobos. “They’re really, really long, and Jaisa Nunn is one of the best post players in the whole nation.”
Cameron Goeldner is a senior reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer, women’s basketball, softball and the Albuquerque Isotopes, but also contributes content for all other sports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Goeldfinger.