WNIT: Lobos, Huskies to meet in Round 2 - Albuquerque Journal

WNIT: Lobos, Huskies to meet in Round 2

Sunday night’s WNIT matchup between the University of New Mexico and Washington will certainly be a clash of styles.

Speed versus size is an apt description – and the Lobos have to hope quickness prevails.

Coming off a 72-64 first-round win over Northern Arizona, UNM will make its first-ever appearance at Washington’s Alaska Airlines Arena. They’ll face a Huskies team that doesn’t closely resemble any of UNM’s previous opponents.

“They play with the pace of Wyoming, but it’s a different offense,” Lobos coach Mike Bradbury said. “They’re really much different than anyone we’ve played. They’re big, they execute well on offense and when they’re good, they’re really good.”

It will be something of an adventure for the Lobos, who practiced in Albuquerque on Saturday before departing for Seattle. The Lobos are still adjusting to their own change of style after twin sisters LaTascya and LaTora Duff opted not to participate in the WNIT.

UNM’s Kath van Bennekom puts up a jumpshot over Northern Arizona’s Sophie Glance during the opening round of the WNIT at the Pit in a victory over Northern Arizona. With twins LaTascya and LaTora Duff having opted out, van Bennekom is among the players coach Mike Bradbury is counting on to step up in Sunday’s WNIT second-round game at Washington.
Mike Sandoval/For the Journal

UNM (21-12) adjusted well enough against NAU, starting sophomore Aniyah Augmon at point guard and reinserting sophomore Paula Reus into the starting lineup. The reserve rotation was different, but Nia Johnson, Jaelyn Bates and Kath van Bennekom did an effective job off the bench.

“I liked the way they played,” Bradbury said. “We probably won’t shoot as many 3s with this lineup and we’ll drive the ball more. But we’ve been playing the same system for six months, so it’s not going to change too much at this point.”

The Lobos played at their usual fast pace against NAU and made it work. Whether they can do it against the much-taller, deliberate Huskies (16-14) remains to be seen.

Washington has three 6-foot-4 players in its rotation and has dominated the boards for most of the season. The Huskies’ offense often runs through 6-4 Dalayah Daniels, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.

Bradbury understandably does not want to see the Huskies getting multiple shot opportunities.

“We definitely want to play in transition – if we can get rebounds,” Bradbury said. “It won’t be easy.”

Sunday’s winner will meet the Wyoming-Kansas State winner in round three. UNM and Wyoming are the lone remaining Mountain West teams in the WNIT. Colorado State and San Diego State lost first-round games.

SECOND LOOK: UNM has faced Washington only once previously – a 68-63 victory in Albuquerque in 1999 in the WNIT.

NUMBER 8: Shaiquel McGruder’s 18-point performance against Northern Arizona moved her into eighth place on UNM’s career scoring list with 1,430 points. McGruder surpassed both Yvonne McKinnon (1,416 points from 1981-85) and Amy Beggin (1,428 points from 2006-10) on Thursday.

It will take an extended WNIT run for McGruder to climb another notch. Jean Rostermundt (1,541 points from 1977-80) is seventh on the list.

COMMITTED: The Lobos picked up a verbal commitment last week from 5-foot-8 point guard Nahawa Diarra Berthe, who attended UNM’s WNIT opener against Northern Arizona. Berthe announced her commitment via Instagram.

Berthe, who is from Barcelona, Spain, was a freshman at Odessa Junior College this season. She averaged 8.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists for the Wranglers, who finished 16-10.

Bradbury confirmed UNM is recruiting Berthe but NCAA rules otherwise prohibit coaches from commenting on unsigned players.


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