Stevens: Lobos Face Improved Broncos in Boise
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/21/2014

New Mexico Lobos Women’s Basketball – On The Mountain West Road

Who: New Mexico (7-9, 2-3 MW) at Boise State (8-8, 3-2 MW)

When/Where: 7 p.m. (MT), Wednesday – Taco Bell Arena, Boise, Idaho

On The Air: 610-AM with Joe Behrend

GoLobos.com:  Game Story, Statistics

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

“That’s a good get for them,” said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez.

The “get” for Boise State is 5-foot-11 Deanna Weaver, who is a fast becoming one of the top all-around players in the Mountain West.  The transfer from Oregon averages 15.3 points, 6.5 boards and shoot 85 percent from the line.

She is quick, athletic and go-to.

You combine Weaver with 6-foot-3 Miquelle Askew’s 13.8 points and 6.2 boards, 6-1 Lexie Der’s 11.2 points and 6.7 boards, and 5-5 Yalza Rodriguez’s 9.6 average and the scouting report on the Broncos gets pretty simple.

They can score from just about anywhere – and just about any way.  So, watch them all. The Broncos have had seven different players lead the team in scoring.

“It won’t be easy. Boise State is a very good team and they are kind of on a roll,” said Sanchez of the Mountain West task that waits in Boise, Idaho. “There are no surprises in our league. Everybody can beat anybody.”

If Boise State is somewhat of a surprise, it’s because they were a bit of an unknown because of all their youth. There also was a question about how quickly the team would find chemistry with Weaver in the lineup. The Broncos were picked in the MW preseason poll to finish eighth – behind No. 1 pick Fresno State and No. 4 New Mexico.

The chemistry seems to be there. Weaver has played six games for Boise State and the Broncos are 4-2 in that span. “She (Weaver) is a nice-sized guard,” said Sanchez. “She is athletic and can shoot the outside shot, but can get to the rim.  She’ll rebound, crash the boards.  She is an all-around good player.” 

The Broncos are a young team that likely will continue to improve with games and minutes under their belts. They lost 98-68 at New Mexico State on Nov. 14, but have won three of their past four MW games. The Broncos have no seniors and Weaver is the only junior in the starting lineup. Boise has another solid guard in 5-7, sophomore Keiahnna Engel, who averages 7.0 points and 4.5 boards.

The Broncos have kicked out an 8-8 record and are 3-2 in the Mountain West coming off a road win at Utah State.  That’s what the Lobos want and need, too – a road win.

“We need to get on a roll and get that first conference road win,” said Sanchez, whose Lobos are 7-9 overall and 2-3 in the Mountain race.    

The game Wednesday night in Boise is critical to both teams, which can’t afford to slip too far from the top of the MW standings.  Colorado State, Fresno State and UNLV all have a single league loss. Boise State and Wyoming have lost twice. UNM, Utah State, Nevada and San Diego State all have three losses and UNM has lost to all three.

It’s that point of the season where you need to keep up – or fall behind.

“We’ve had a lot of hard lessons this year and we need to take this time and start making people pay for it,” said Lobo Antiesha Brown referring to UNM’s rugged pre-conference slate.

Brown is a key for the Lobos.  She is UNM’s top scorer with a 13.0 average followed by senior Sara Halasz at 11.6. The Broncos surely will be keying on these two Lobo guns.  Deeva Vaughn takes an 8.3 average to Boise and Khadijah Shumpert averages 9.5 points.

Boise State is averaging 69.6 points and New Mexico scores at a 60.9 clip.  However, UNM’s offensive numbers have gone up in league games. The Lobos average 66.8 points in their five MW games and Boise State averages 64.4.

“They do press and they look to score in transition,” UNM’s Brown said of Boise State. “They are more of a guard oriented team.

“Solid defense is going to get us through games. You can be scout specific, but things change and people can have big games. It’s all about digging in and competing.”

The Broncos also are finding that defense wins games.  They give up 71.6 points overall, but only 64.6 in league play. Boise State can score but the keys to them making a run at the MW title also hinge on defense, rebounding and keeping other teams off the free-throw line.

The Broncos have shot 307 free throws to 404 for the opposition, which is too many points to surrender at the line. The Broncos shoot 38 percent from the floor and allow opponents to shoot 43 percent.

The Lobos are coming off a home-court loss to Fresno State and need to pick up a road win to help make up for that Pit loss.

“It was a tough one,” Brown said of the two-point fall to Fresno.  “You think about what you could have done and what you shouldn’t have done, but the next day you move on to the next game. It (the loss) is more of a motivation.  It makes you more hungry.”