In what is becoming a dispiritingly familiar narrative to the University of New Mexico women’s basketball faithful, head coach Mike Bradbury’s 2019-20 team dropped two straight games after a pair of rather convincing victories the week prior.
Consistency, it seems, is an increasingly difficult quality to come by for Bradbury and company.
In one of the lowest-scoring UNM women’s basketball games of the season, UNM (11-10, 2-6 MW) lost to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (9-9) at Dreamstyle Arena on Saturday, Jan. 18 in front of an announced crowd of over 5,000. The game ended in a score of 68-51.
Four days later, the Lobos’ offense returned to life but wasn’t enough in a 89-85 defeat at San José State on Wednesday, Jan. 22.
The 51-points scored on Saturday were second-lowest only to the 47 scored in an away loss at Arizona State in mid-December. After Wednesday’s matinee in California, the Lobos slid to 10th in the Mountain West out of 11 teams.
Bradbury began his postgame press conference after the UNLV loss with an unorthodox monologue before taking questions from reporters, detailing a restless night before the game in which he was “torn” between various scenarios of “taking all the hits,” “rolling out the company line” and “telling everybody who I didn’t like and why.”
Before that contest, a statement released by the program announced that sophomore guard Jayla Everett was entering the transfer portal. Everett joined Bride Kennedy-Hopoate and Najala Howell as players to leave the team this season.
Bradbury asserted Everett’s departure didn’t cause a distraction for his team, as she had practiced with the scout team on the Friday before the UNLV contest.
“Teams have to be able to deal with certain things, and I thought we handled it great,” Bradbury said. “It is what it is, and we’ll adjust and keep going.”
High hopes at the outset of the season seem to be dwindling with each passing week, as a six-game winning streak to start the campaign is now a distant memory and wins and losses are coming in equal volume.
Throughout the first quarter of the UNLV game, the Lobos held on to a tie until the last minute. Once the Rebels broke a 14-14 tie with 1:15 left, they pulled away for good, doubling their score and holding the Lobos to only 9 additional points. UNLV ended the half with a 41-23 advantage and never looked back.
UNM couldn’t buy a bucket from distance in the opening frame, attempting 11 3-pointers without a single one landing. That trend was unlike any other game this season and especially contrasted with the previous game against Colorado State, where the majority of the points and shots taken were from beyond the arc.
The Lobos came out from the locker room fighting harder to try and turn the game around, but UNLV only continued pushing the tempo and held nearly the same lead for the remainder of the game.
The Rebels grabbed 58 rebounds compared to the Lobos’ 28. Ahlise Hurst led UNM from the field with 16 points, while Jordan Hosey collected 7 rebounds.
Wednesday’s affair didn’t go much better, as SJSU (13-6, 7-1 MW) commanded a 54-42 lead at halftime and withstood a late fourth-quarter surge from UNM to seal the 4-point win.
Junior guard Jaedyn De La Cerda led five Lobos who scored in double figures with 24 points, and Aisia Robertson’s 14-point, 12-assist effort resulted in her first double-double of the season.
Despite the losses suffered by his roster since the beginning of the season, Bradbury maintained UNM doesn’t play in a vacuum and losing players at this rate isn’t “something that doesn’t happen” around the country.
“I know you (reporters) are locked into Albuquerque and all that, but I’m not,” he said after the UNLV game. “People come and go, it’s today’s society. I’m okay with it — I’m used to it.”
Andrew Gunn is the sports editor and a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @agunnwrites
Angelina Pompeo is a sports reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @PompeoAngelina