UNM women brace for a different breed of 'Cats coming Wednesday - Albuquerque Journal

UNM women brace for a different breed of ‘Cats coming Wednesday

Different bunch of Wildcats, different set of challenges.
That’s what the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team will face when Abilene Christian visits the Pit on Wednesday night.
The Lobos (4-4) did not have much luck in their first attempt at tangling with Wildcats, dropping a 77-60 decision to then-No. 14 Arizona on Sunday. Still, that contest proved instructive and UNM will attempt to put what it learned to use against Abilene Christian’s group of Wildcats.
“We obviously made some mistakes and turned the ball over too much (against Arizona),” UNM coach Mike Bradbury said. “But I thought we did a good job keeping our heads up and playing through things. A lot of our mistakes were forced by Arizona’s pressure. That’s what they do and they’re really good at it. We just have to learn from it and keep improving.”
The Lobos do not figure to face the same type of pressure against Abilene Christian (4-3), but that doesn’t mean Wednesday’s game will be a walk in the park. These Wildcats are effective on both ends of the court, even if they play at a considerably slower pace than Arizona prefers.
“Abilene Christian’s good,” Bradbury said. “All of their guards can drive it and just about everyone shoots 3s. They play extremely hard and will make you work on both ends. This will be a difficult game.”
Wednesday’s contest falls between two higher-profile games for UNM, which hosts round two of its annual series against rival New Mexico State this coming Sunday. With that in mind, Bradbury wants to make sure his team is focused on the task at hand.
Abilene Christian, like UNM, has had its ups and downs this season as veteran coach Julie Goodenough integrates several new players into her rotation. There’s no lack of talent, however, as fifth-year players Madi Miller and Maleeah Langstaff bring inside-outside scoring ability to the table.
Also like UNM, the Wildcats rely heavily on 3-point shooting. They went 13-for-28 from long range in a 78-67 win over Alabama State last week, but were an icy 3-for-20 in a 54-38 loss to Louisiana in their previous outing.
The Lobos had relatively few attempts from 3-point range against Arizona’s defensive pressure, finishing 5-for-13. Overall, UNM is 61-for-212 (28.8%) from beyond the arc and ranks 24th nationally in 3-point attempts.
Still, these are not last season’s bombs-away Lobos.
Newcomers Amaya Brown and Nia Johnson are more effective attacking the basket or taking midrange shots than they are shooting from distance. The same can be said of standout post Shaiquel McGruder and sophomore guard Aniyah Augmon. Those four players combined have made just five 3-pointers this season.
Bradbury has changed up UNM’s offense this season to accommodate his roster, but adjusting to a new system and having various players out at different times has slowed the transition. No thanks to injuries, illness and family obligations, Brown, McGruder, Johnson and Paula Reus are the only Lobos who have appeared in all eight games.
“Having to change the rotation so much does make it hard,” Bradbury said. “You like to have players settle into roles and be comfortable with what they’re doing. We’re not quite there yet.”
The Lobos have the rest of 2022 to find their comfort zone. Including Wednesday’s game, they have five non-conference games remaining before opening Mountain West play against Air Force on New Year’s Day.

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