Selective memory may be a key for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team on Saturday.
The Lobos, who host Houston in a 2 p.m. contest at the Pit, would love to simply erase Monday’s 76-68 loss at Southern Utah from their memory banks. UNM would particularly like to block out a 16-2 Thunderbirds run early in the third quarter that ultimately determined the outcome.
“That was frustrating because we did everything right on offense except make shots,” senior Shaiquel McGruder said. “The bad thing was, we let it affect us on defense. That can’t happen. If you miss a shot, forget about it and stay focused.”
Coach Mike Bradbury hopes his team will remember that aspect of Monday’s defeat. It figures to be important against a Houston team that effectively demolished the Lobos with a huge second-half surge last season. The Cougars led 38-34 at halftime and went on to blitz the Lobos 51-26 in the second half, rolling to a 29-point win.
UNM and Houston both have numerous players back from last season, and Bradbury expects the Cougars to hit his team with the same type of full-court pressure that caused the Lobos to wilt last season.
“Houston joins the Big 12 next year and they’ve got Power 5 talent right now,” he said. “They’ll come after us; that’s what they do. Hopefully we’ll have a better plan this time.”
McGruder shook her head when asked about last season’s loss to Houston.
“You just have to keep fighting against a team like that,” she said. “They’re going to press and force some turnovers but you can’t get frustrated. We know how they’re going to play, and we’re ready for the challenge.”
UNM did not handle its opening road game well, shooting poorly (10-of-39 from 3-point range) and getting clobbered on the boards (54-32). After breaking down the game video, Bradbury said it looked a lot like a season opener.
“Our execution was horrible,” he said. “We didn’t get many good shots at all in the first half. We actually got more in the second half and didn’t make anything. We have to do the little things better, know our assignments, communicate and hopefully knock down open shots.”
The Lobos did not knock down many at Southern Utah, shooting 35.5% overall and just 29.7% in the second half. Starters Paula Reus, Amaya Brown and reserve Viané Cumber combined to go 2-of-17 from the field.
Houston (0-1) also is coming off a forgettable opener. The Cougars shot a dismal 23.3% in a 55-48 loss Monday at Louisiana Lafayette. Bria Patterson posted a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds), but her teammates suffered through a rough shooting night.
McGruder, who scored 13 points Monday and needs just five more to join UNM’s 1,000-point club, is confident that playing at home will provide the Lobos with a needed spark.
“I expect us to play well,” she said. “Whether it was first-game jitters or whatever it was (Monday) night, that’s out of the way. We’re home and we’ll have our crowd behind us Saturday. No excuses.”