Hope for the best, prepare for the worst was the mantra at Monday’s UNM women’s basketball practice session.
The Lobos, who visit Utah State on Wednesday, went through game preparations without senior guard Alex Lapeyrolerie, who watched from the sideline. Lapeyrolerie injured her left knee during the first quarter of Saturday’s 57-49 win over Air Force, was taken up the Dreamstyle Arena ramp on a cart and did not return.
Lapeyrolerie was walking without crutches Monday but her injury status remained unknown. She was scheduled for an MRI late Monday night, Lobo coach Mike Bradbury said.
“Alex will not play Wednesday,” Bradbury said. “Beyond that I don’t know. We’ll just hope the MRI comes back with good news.”
Lapeyrolerie has started all 26 games this season for UNM (19-7, 7-6 Mountain West), averaging 11.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. She ranks second on the team in 3-pointers made (64) and attempted (176) and provides a physical defensive presence for the guard-oriented Lobos. Lapeyrolerie often defends opposing forwards, particularly when UNM post Jaisa Nunn is not on the floor.
Wednesday’s starting lineup will be smaller with 5-7 freshman Jasmine Smith filling in for Lapeyrolerie. However, Bradbury is not planning significant changes to the game plan.
“We’ll just roll on with Jazz (Smith) in the starting lineup,” he said. “Nothing really changes except some of the minutes off the bench. Other people just have to step up for us.”
Smith, who averages 3.7 points and 1.6 rebounds per game, is in line for her third start. She made back-to-back starts against UNLV and San Diego State before suffering a concussion during practice and missing four consecutive games. Smith played 32 minutes off the bench against Air Force.
Lapeyrolerie’s injury could impact UNM from 3-point range, where Smith is just 2-of-7 this season, but the freshman is adept at attacking the basket off the dribble. Laneah Bryan and Madi Washington, both effective 3-point shooters, could see extra minutes off the bench in Lapeyrolerie’s absence.
Freshman forward Antonia Anderson also is likely to see extended playing time in upcoming games. Anderson, who missed four games with a knee injury, played eight minutes against Air Force, collecting two rebounds and three blocked shots.
“She was kind of an emergency-only player (against Air Force),” Bradbury said. “She’d only practiced once. But when Alex got hurt and Jaisa got in foul trouble, it was an emergency and AT (Anderson) gave us good minutes. She’ll be ready to go Wednesday.”