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Lobos Buoyed By Recent Gains

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UNM To Host Rams Tonight

The homestretch starts tonight.

A regular season that’s frequently seemed like an uphill marathon is down to three games – two at home – for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team.

The Lobos insist they’ve got a finishing kick left and intend to demonstrate that fact, starting tonight when Colorado State visits the Pit.

Today
Colorado State at UNM, 7 p.m.
Radio: KNML-AM (610)

“We’ve had our struggles and trials,” said senior Nikki Nelson, who addressed the media with ice bags strapped to both knees after Tuesday’s practice. “You can either come through it with a positive attitude and keep working, or you can crumble.

“We’re going to come out hard and not just play to get close again. We’re going to play to get a win that can finally turn things our way.”

Despite a slew of injuries and close losses that Nelson likened to a “continual punch in the gut,” UNM has shown improvement since the second half of Mountain West Conference play began. The Lobos (8-17, 2-9) avenged a narrow loss by toppling Wyoming, then played conference-leading San Diego State and UNLV significantly closer than they did in the first round of league play.

“Baby steps, but we have been getting better,” UNM coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “It doesn’t always feel better, because no one wants to lose. But we still feel like we’ve got an opportunity to finish on a positive note, go to the conference tournament and take our chances.”

Sanchez planned to change things up a bit for tonight’s rematch with the Rams (12-14, 8-3). To match up with CSU’s tall front line, the Lobos employed a “big” lineup at practice this week. Six-foot forward Jourdan Erskine joined 6-1 Porche Torrance and 6-foot Chinyere Nnaji on the front line, with Nelson and Caroline Durbin in the guard spots.

Asked how UNM would try to contend with a potent Rams front line that features 6-2 Sam Martin, 6-3 Kelly Hartig and 6-2 Meaghan Heimstra, Sanchez smiled.

“Just get a crowbar and knee-cap ‘em,” she joked. “Actually we just have to limit their touches inside. It’s a matter of will for our post players. We have to keep them out of the paint.”

Erskine said she’s ready for the challenge.

“We have to try not to let the ball even get to their post players,” she said. “Steal it; deflect it; do whatever we can to keep it out of their hands.”

Another cause for concern is CSU senior Kim Mestdagh, who is a threat to score from nearly anywhere. Still, the Lobos would prefer to make the Rams shoot from outside, something they struggled with in a 66-62 overtime loss at Wyoming on Saturday.

NOTE: Senior Lauren Taylor did not practice Monday or Tuesday after being involved in a violent collision late in Saturday’s 65-60 loss at UNLV. Taylor was feeling better Tuesday but is questionable for tonight’s game, Sanchez said.
NELSON: Weary of not winning close gamesUNM To Host Rams TonightLobos Buoyed By Recent Gains

UNM WOMEN
— This article appeared on page D3 of the Albuquerque Journal

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