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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – University of New Mexico Women’s Basketball Head Coach Yvonne Sanchez has announced that redshirt sophomore Whiney Johnson will take a leave of absence from the program to begin her Mormon mission. Johnson, a redshirt candidate for the 2013-14 season after an Achilles’ tendon injury, will leave for Mexico City this spring. Johnson’s mission to Mexico will be for 18 months, and she will return for the 2015-16 season.

“As a program, we realize how important this is to Whitney. This is something that is bigger than basketball, and we support her in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. We can’t wait to welcome her back to the program when she completes her mission,” said Head Coach Yvonne Sanchez.

Johnson was a fixture in the post in her first season of action with the Lobos in 2012-13. The Utah native appeared in all 31 games while starting in 18 of them. She led the team in field goal percentage (.551) while averaging 5.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 18 minutes per game last season.

Coach Sanchez and the Lobos will take to the court for their exhibition opener versus New Mexico Highlands on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. (MT) in The Pit.

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