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Lobo women look to bounce back

THE GAME DAY BOX APPEARING IN SATURDAY’S JOURNAL

Frustration could easily play a role in Saturday’s New Mexico-Colorado State women’s basketball game at Dreamstyle Arena.

Both teams have a little pent-up anger to vent.

The Lobos (12-2, 2-1 Mountain West) are coming off an aggravating 66-57 loss at UNLV that snapped their 11-game winning streak and do not want any part of what could be their first two-game losing streak of 2018-19. The Rams (7-7, 1-2) haven’t won outside of Moby Arena this season and suffered a rare loss to Air Force on Wednesday night.

“Yeah, I think both teams might be a little angry,” UNM point guard Aisia Robertson said, “but you can’t play that way. We just need to focus on what we can control, playing better and getting back in the win column.”

Lobos coach Mike Bradbury agreed – to an extent.

“UNLV’s behind us,” he said. “We’re not going to sit around and sulk about something we can’t change. We’ve had two good days of practice and we’re focused on Colorado State.”

But …

“We are ticked about (Wednesday’s loss) but you have to move on,” he said.

The Lobos have moved on by trying to correct some of their shortcomings from Wednesday’s outing. UNM did a poor job defending Rebels point guard Nikki Wheatley (who scored a career-high 28 points) and expect to see CSU point guard Grace Colaivalu on the attack. Colaivalu is generally more of a pass-first player, but she has had big games against the Lobos.

Bradbury expects the rest of the Rams to do what they typically do best, play strong half-court defense and milk the shot clock with patient offense. The style does not play to UNM’s up-tempo strengths, but Robertson believes her team is up to the challenge.

“You have to stay disciplined,” she said. “You have to expect to play defense for 30 seconds on every possession and you can’t be undisciplined on offense. Sometimes you can get away with some turnovers in a fast-tempo game but not in a game like this. We have to take care of the ball.”

UNM had 20 turnovers in its loss at UNLV, many of them committed when Robertson went to the bench with foul trouble. It was a rare poor performance from the Lobos’ point guard, who fouled out with just four points.

“Frustrating,” Robertson said, “but everyone has a bad game at some point. All you can do is accept it, learn from it and keep working.”

Bradbury and the Lobos took some solace from a solid post performance at UNLV. Senior Jaisa Nunn broke a string of relatively quiet games with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while senior Nike McClure had a typically active night with four points, six rebounds and four blocks.

The Lobos will need another solid effort inside against the Rams’ tall and mobile front line. Still, Bradbury does not want Saturday’s matchup to become too much of a grind.

“We’d prefer not to be in the 40s,” he said with a laugh. “The way CSU plays it would probably take us four hours to score 80. We can’t make them shoot quickly and they won’t, but we’ll look for our opportunities. Hopefully, we’ll have a few.”

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