Fortune hasn’t too often smiled on the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team this season. Bad breaks have been more the norm than exceptions.
But history will be on the Lobos’ side Monday night.
UNM hosts Air Force for its annual senior night contest, the final home appearance for Lobos Aisia Robertson and Jordan Hosey. The Falcons have never won in Albuquerque in 21 previous attempts.
New Mexico would love to keep that record intact for numerous reasons. With two games remaining before Mountain West tournament play begins, the Lobos (14-15, 5-11) could sorely use some confidence-building wins.
They also want to finish ahead of Air Force (7-20, 5-11) in the conference standings, which a win Monday would accomplish. UNM defeated AFA earlier this season in Colorado and would secure a tiebreaker edge if it can sweep the two-game series.
But there’s extra incentive regarding Robertson and Hosey, UNM coach Mike Bradbury said.
“They’ve both done everything they can for this program,” Bradbury said. “Jordan’s only been here a year but she’s embraced everything and been a warrior for us. A.R. (Robertson) has had to battle through a horrible (knee) injury and adapt her game and she’s given us all she has. I’d really love to send both of them out with a win.”
Hosey, a 6-foot-1 post who played three seasons at Texas, has been forced to battle larger posts all season. She’s averaging 12.0 points per game and leads the Lobos in rebounding (8.3 per game). Hosey also easily leads the team in taking charges and ending up sprawled on the court.
Despite UNM’s overall record and struggles in close games, Hosey said she’s enjoyed being a Lobo.
“This season was more how I envisioned my college career going,” she said. “I’m very glad I decided to come here.”
Robertson, a 5-10 senior point guard who transferred from Kansas, has seen sizeable ups and downs during her two seasons of eligibility. Robertson was an All-Mountain West pick last season and led the Lobos to a 24-5 record before injuring her knee in the regular-season finale.
That injury largely derailed UNM’s 2018-19 season and required Robertson to undergo reconstructive surgery in April. She missed the Lobos’ first five games this season and has played with a heavy brace since then. Robertson’s overall numbers have dropped, but she averages 28 minutes per game, ranks second in the Mountain West in assists (5.4 per game) and shares the team lead in steals (49) with Ahlise Hurst.
Robertson concedes she has mixed emotions about Monday’s home finale.
“Bittersweet,” she said. “It’s kind of exciting to play my senior night game but it’s also kind of sad. This means my last year of college basketball’s winding down and I have to start being a true adult.”
Robertson also hopes to end her home career on a high note and she’s not counting on history to be a factor. Recent events suggest this year’s Air Force team is considerably more dangerous than most of its predecessors. The Falcons own the only win over first-place Fresno State this season and have road wins over San Jose State and San Diego State this month.
“Air Force is always a hard-nosed team,” Robertson said, “and they’ve been gaining confidence lately. We can’t think that just because it’s senior night they’re going to give us a win. We have to come out focused on our game plan and earn this one.”