Miranda Sanchez earned a reputation as an elite 3-point shooter and something of a free spirit during her career with the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team.
The Albuquerque native was also one of the most popular players to wear a Lobos uniform.
Sanchez, who helped spark the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team’s rise to prominence in the late 1990s and early 2000s, passed away Monday after a brief illness. Sanchez was 41.
Details of Sanchez’s passing were not available Monday and her family requested privacy.
Sanchez, who practiced law in Albuquerque since 2012, was better known by many for her work on basketball courts. After a stellar prep career at Sandia, Sanchez played at UNM from 1998-2001. She left quite a mark in the team record books and still ranks 10th in career scoring (1,301 points) and is tied for third with 186 3-pointers. Sanchez is one of 16 players to exceed 1,000 points and 500 rebounds (556) during her Lobos career.
Sanchez hit eight 3-pointers in a 2000 game against Air Force, a single-game program mark that stood until 2017 and remains the standard for a conference game. Her 39.5 career 3-point shooting percentage ranks third in team history.
Sanchez played a post position for the Lobos but then-coach Don Flanagan said she was anything but a traditional post.
“Mir (Sanchez) wasn’t much of a runner but she was tough to defend,” Flanagan said. “She could really shoot, especially in transition, and other posts had a terrible time trying to come out and guard her.”
Both Flanagan and then-UNM assistant coach Yvonne Sanchez said it was more than basketball that so endeared Miranda Sanchez to UNM fans.
“She had an infectious smile and a big heart. She was one of those people who’d give you the shirt off her back,” Yvonne Sanchez said. “She was kind of goofy, too. I can’t count the number of times Coach Flanagan put her in pushup position at practice.”
Such was not the case come game time.
“She showed up to play,” Flanagan said. “Besides, I never saw anyone get really mad at her. You couldn’t. She was a sweet person. I’m really gonna miss her.”
Sanchez was a key player on some successful UNM teams and went on to play professionally in France for three seasons. She returned to Albuquerque, earned a law degree and practiced alongside her father, Robert M. Sanchez, for several years.