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Women’s basketball: Lobo starters begin to emerge

The pace and pressure are increasing fast for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team.

Less than two weeks remain until the Lobos host Fort Lewis in the season’s first exhibition game, and practice is beginning to reflect that deadline pressure. Coach Mike Bradbury and his staff have narrowed their list of potential starters and many of the team’s drills have been cranked up to game speed.

“We’ve already had some separation,” Bradbury said, “and our starting positions will play themselves out in the next week or so. It’s an important time because once we get our rotation determined, we like to settle in. We’ll go with the best we have and that’s it.”

Junior guard Cherise Beynon and senior post Richelle van der Keijl have effectively locked up starting positions, Bradbury said. The 5-foot-10 Beynon is playing primarily at point guard, while the 6-5 van der Keijl provides UNM with a true center.

“We’re at our best with those two on the floor,” Bradbury said.

Six players, meanwhile, are battling for the Lobos’ remaining three starting spots. Senior Kianna Keller and sophomore Jaisa Nunn are competing to join van der Keijl in the post. Four players – juniors Jayda Bovero, Alex Lapeyrolerie, Laneah Bryan and freshman Mykiel Burleson – are in the hunt for two openings at guard.

Fans will have a chance to see some of the positional battles Saturday when the Lobos hold an open practice from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pit. The practice will include an officiated scrimmage, Bradbury said.

If it’s anything like Tuesday’s practice, the scrimmage will be fast-paced. Bradbury urged his guards to, “Go, go, go,” as soon as they gained possession in five-on-five drills. Players rarely hesitated to take the first available open shot.

“That’s the way we want it,” Bradbury said, “and it’s only going to get faster.”

NOTES: Bryan, who missed several practices last week including drills at Friday’s Lobo Howl, was back in action Tuesday and appeared to be moving freely. … Transfer Erica Moore underwent successful surgery to repair a torn right Achilles tendon. Moore, who was not eligible to play this season under NCAA transfer rules, is expected to be ready for 2017-18.

Fans are asked to enter through the Pit’s northeast entrance for Saturday’s open practice. Admission is free and complimentary posters and schedule cards will be available. Lobo players will be available to meet fans and sign autographs at the conclusion of Saturday’s open practice. The team also will be introduced between the first and second quarters of Saturday’s UNM-Louisiana Monroe football game at University Stadium.

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