New Mexico Lobos Women’s Mountain West Basketball – At San Diego State
Saturday: 3 p.m. (MT); New Mexico (9-15, 4-9 MW) at San Diego State (9-14, 6-7 MW)
On The Air: 610-AM KNML; Mountain West Network Live Stream
GoLobos.com: Game Story, Complete Stats, Game Notes
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The challenge presented by the San Diego State Aztecs can be revealed in their last game – a loss. The Aztecs have scorers.
In SDSU’s loss at Utah State, the Aztecs got 17 points from Cierra Warren, and double-doubles from Danesha Long and Khristina Hunter. They also got 13 points from Chloe Johnson, who averages 1.7 points.
“They are athletic,” said Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez. “They look to drive and they have a nice post presence.”
Warren is the post presence. She is a strong, 6-foot-4 senior. She came to San Diego State from Louisville by way of North Carolina. She is a California girl returned to her roots pursuing a Master’s degree. She is smart on the court, too. She averages 14.9 points and 6.3 boards. She tops the MW with a 55.9 percent shooting touch.
Warren gets board help from the 6-1 Hunter, who averages 6.7 boards and 9.0 points. The 5-9 Long averages 10.2 points and 5.0 rebounds. Ariell Bostick, a 5-4 guard, averages 9.4 points. Warren has 23 blocks.
“For the most part, they like to pound the ball inside or shoot those free-throw line jumpers,” said Sanchez.
The Aztecs’ problem sometimes comes at the other end. They need to stop people. Sometimes they do it. Sometimes they don’t.
“We have to be patient with their zone,” said Sanchez. “They are long and athletic. And we have to make sure we don’t have 21 turnovers against them. And Warren is a great shot blocker.”
The Aztecs, like the Lobos, are better than their 9-14 record might suggest. Also like the Lobos, they have the talent to get on a roll heading into the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas. That’s the Aztecs’ plan. That’s the Lobos’ plan.
“We are looking to start a new streak,” said Sanchez of her Lobos coming off a Pit win over UNLV. “And we are looking for another road conference win. We only have one.”
San Diego State is athletic and can do a lot of things well. The Aztecs shoot better from the floor than the Lobos at 41.1 percent to 39.7 percent. They are better statistically in shot defense allowing 41.4 percent to UNM’s 41.8 percent. They are plus 6.3 on the boards compared to UNM’s plus 5.2.
And on Saturday, the Aztecs will be at home in Viejas Arena where they are 4-2 in Mountain West play. Like most teams, they play better at home. They lost to Colorado State by three points in San Diego. They lost to the Rams by 47 in Fort Collins. They scored 88 points each at home vs. San Jose State and Utah State.
The Aztecs are 6-5 over their past 11 games. The Lobos are 2-8 over their past 10 games – but are coming off a win.
“I don’t think our demeanor has ever changed,” said Sanchez. “It (losing) wears on you a little bit, but you just have to go out and play hard and that’s one thing about our kids: They have never stopped playing hard.”
New Mexico is led in scoring by 5-10 Antiesha Brown with a 13.8 average. Khadijah Shumpert is at 10.9 points with a 6.0-board average per game. Sara Halasz is in double figures with 10.4 points and adds 6.1 rebounds a game. Deeva Vaughn is at 9.2 points, and Bryce Owens averages 3.2 assists.
The Lobos have played pretty good ball over their past five games: a win at San Jose State, a four-point loss at Wyoming, an overtime loss to Boise State, a two-point loss at Nevada and a 65-58 win over a UNLV team that has as much talent as any team in the Mountain West.
Still, the Lobos need to start finishing on the winning side of the scoreboard, and a win at San Diego State would help the Lobos’ confidence outside The Pit.
Especially with the MW Tournament – in Las Vegas – just five games away.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.