ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Highland High Grad Appears Set To Make Her First Start
Deeva Vaughn has been looking forward to this.
Growing up in Albuquerque, Vaughn has watched more than a few UNM-New Mexico State women’s basketball battles in the Pit. Tonight she gets to participate.
“I grew up rooting for the Lobos,” said Vaughn, a 6-foot junior guard/forward and Highland High grad. “I started going to the girls’ games in seventh grade, and New Mexico State is a rivalry. Playing in this game does give me extra motivation.”
New Mexico State at UNM, 7 p.m. Radio: 610 AM
Now in her second season since transferring to New Mexico from junior college, Vaughn has one Lobo-Aggie game under her belt. She scored 13 points and provided the game-winning assist in a 59-58 victory last season in Las Cruces.
However, Vaughn was sidelined by concussion symptoms when the two teams met at the Pit. So tonight will be her first home taste of the Rio Grande Rivalry.
Ironically, it also figures to be Vaughn’s first start of the season, as junior Chinyere Nnaji remains out with concussion symptoms. Freshman Whitney Johnson started Sunday’s 63-46 win over Houston Baptist, but Vaughn started the second half and helped UNM erase a four-point deficit to win going away.
Vaughn had been coming off the bench at guard, something Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez planned to continue until transfer guard Antiesha Brown becomes eligible in December. But Vaughn’s ability to score inside may have accelerated her return to the post.
Vaughn doesn’t mind in the least.
“I’m at home in the post,” Vaughn said. “I’ve always thought of myself as a forward with guard tendencies, not the other way around.”
Vaughn hopes to help her team continue its dominant ways against New Mexico State. The Lobos have won nine straight over the Aggies and 31 of the last 32 meetings.
Sanchez does not enjoy thinking about such streaks, knowing they all end at some point. Instead, she pointed out that both of last season’s Lobo-Aggie games were one-point decisions.
“It’s going to be another grind-it-out game,” Sanchez said. “(NMSU coach Mark Trakh) is rebuilding that program, and he does a great job. They have more depth now, just like we do, so I’m expecting another real battle.”
The Aggies (1-1) already have faced two tight battles, defeating Loyola Marymount in overtime before falling 43-41 to Cal Santa Barbara.
Kelsie Rozendaal, Danesia Williamson and Stefanie Gilbreath provide the scoring punch for NMSU, combining to average 41.5 points per game.
HOME-STATE COOKING: Aggies guard Elena Holguin could be in line for a big performance tonight.
She’ll be the third New Mexican in as many games to square off against the Lobos at the Pit. The first two – Texas Tech’s Amber Battle and Houston Baptist’s Shanice Steenholdt – made themselves comfortable.
Battle, a Cibola High grad, had career-bests in points (12) and minutes played (22) against the Lobos. Steenholdt, a Roswell High grad, went off for 21 points and 16 rebounds.
“I root for New Mexico kids,” Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “(Battle and Steenholdt) had great games here, and good for them. I don’t necessarily like seeing them play so well against us, but…”
Holguin, a Mayfield graduate, is the lone New Mexican on New Mexico State’s roster this season.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal