ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Owens Leads The Cherry Team
Starting a true freshman at point guard is unusual for a Division I basketball team.
Bryce Owens is an unusual player.
Roughly 400 fans got a first look at the UNM women’s basketball team’s projected starting point guard Saturday night as Owens helped her Cherry team to a 52-49 win in an intrasquad scrimmage at the Pit.
Northern New Mexico at UNM (exhibition), 7 p.m.
Owens, a 5-foot-4 newcomer from DeSoto, Texas, drew her share of oohs and ahs from the crowd. She darted past the defense for coast-to-coast layups, threaded bounce passes to teammates and created several turnovers with her quick hands and anticipation.
Owens’ final line: Six points on 3-of-5 shooting, five rebounds, four assists and four steals in 29 minutes.
“Actually better than I thought,” Owens said of her first competitive basketball outing at the Pit. “I was a little nervous, and I thought I went too fast at times, but it was really a lot of fun.”
There were also times Saturday when Owens looked like, well, a freshman. She had a pair of ill-advised passes stolen, ended up with six turnovers and got turned around on defense more than once.
Still, Owens received a passing grade from Lobos coach Yvonne Sanchez.
“For a freshman point guard in this setting for the first time, it was good,” Sanchez said. “At crucial times, she got us good shots and made things happen. The turnovers, well, we’re all working on cutting those down, Bryce included.”
Calling any time crucial in an October scrimmage may be a bit much, but there were pivotal moments in the competitive scrimmage. The Cherry team featured UNM’s projected starters and current top reserves, while the Silver was comprised of not-yet-eligible transfers, two walk-ons, two freshmen and male practice players.
The Cherry team had its hands full thanks in large part to Silver guard Antiesha Brown. The sophomore transfer from Texas Tech, who will be eligible at midseason, racked up 23 points and was 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
Brown, perhaps the one Lobo able to match Owens’ quickness, scored on a fast-break layup to give the Silver a 47-45 lead in the closing minutes. Brown played 35 minutes to lead all players and appeared ready to start the season immediately.
“We knew how good she was coming out of Clovis High School,” Sanchez said of Brown. “Fortunately, we’ll have her soon enough.”
Veteran players ultimately bailed out the Cherry team Saturday.
Senior Caroline Durbin and junior Deeva Vaughn netted late 3-pointers to secure a victory. Durbin finished with 19 points, hitting five 3-pointers, while Vaughn scored 12 points and hit a pair of 3s.
Vaughn’s final shot came on a pass from Owens, who admits she’s been scrambling to adjust as the only true point guard on UNM’s roster. She’s also being pushed by senior Jayme Jackson, a combination guard who helped handle the Lobos’ ball-handling duties last season.
“I do feel like I have to do things perfectly all the time,” Owens said. “I just have to remember to take my time, look at coach Sanchez a little more often and make sure I know what offense we’re in. It’s mostly a matter of slowing myself down.”
NOTES: Sanchez and fans endured a brief scare Saturday when junior Sara Halasz signaled for a substitute after an awkward step on a fast break. Halasz, who missed the past two seasons with knee injuries, later returned for short stint. “It’s just soreness,” Sanchez said. “Sara’s frustrated because she wants to go all-out, but we’re going to have to build her up slowly.” … The Lobos will hold another open scrimmage Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Pit.
True Freshman DazzlesOwens Leads The Cherry Team
— This article appeared on page D9 of the Albuquerque Journal