Lobo women look to stay hot at San Jose State

Jan. 30—The road has not been all that unkind to the UNM women's basketball team lately.

Sure, the Lobos much prefer playing at the Pit, where they are 11-2 this season, but New Mexico's 4-2 record in true road games (3-1 versus Mountain West opponents) is more than respectable. It's even better considering victories at then-No. 25 UNLV and Air Force in UNM's last two road trips.

Still, there's no such thing as an easy MWC trip. Lobos coach Mike Bradbury expects nothing of the kind Wednesday when his team visits San Jose State for a "School Day Matinee" likely to include hundreds of screaming fans at the Spartans' Provident Credit Union Events Center.

SJSU (6-13, 1-6 Mountain West) is off to a sluggish start in Mountain West play but has not been an easy mark at home. The Spartans' three conference home losses came by three points (to Fresno State), by seven (to Nevada) and by four (to Boise State).

With noisy young fans to spur them on, Bradbury expects the Spartans to come out swinging Wednesday.

"We'll get their best shot," he said, "and San Jose State is plenty talented. They have a really good post (Amhyia Moreland) who can score around the basket, and their point guard (Jyah LoVett) is as good as any in the league. They haven't quite put all the pieces together yet, but they will at some point — hopefully not against us."

UNM (15-6, 5-2) comes in riding a four-game winning streak and sitting just one game behind Mountain West co-leaders UNLV and Wyoming. The Lobos host the Rebels for a key conference showdown Saturday, but can ill-afford to start looking ahead.

San Jose State typically does not draw well for women's basketball (610 per game this season), but that number will likely be much higher with Wednesday's bussed-in fans. Bradbury prefers both the increased noise and the early (noon MST) tip time.

"I like the extra energy in the building," he said. "It just has a better feel — plus, you get up in the morning and get ready to play. That's a lot better than sitting around all day waiting for the game."

Energy has not been a problem for the Lobos of late, particularly not for guards Aniyah Augmon and Nyah Wilson, the MWC's respective last two players of the week. Both have scored in double figures in every game of UNM's four-game winning streak, with Augmon racking up 65 points and Wilson scoring 81 in the stretch.

Both have made a living by aggressively attacking the basket and either scoring or drawing fouls on a regular basis. Early in the season, Augmon and Wilson often found themselves cornered in the paint and ended up settling for difficult, contested shots. Bradbury credits their improvement to focus and hard work.

"I think they have a better understanding of the offense now," he said. "They're more comfortable, know what to look for and they're playing with more confidence. It all adds up. They're both playing well and I think they can still get better."

BANGED UP: Lobos junior Paula Reus remains hobbled after injuring her ankle against Air Force. Reus left the game in the second quarter but returned after halftime and was able to practice Tuesday. She is considered probable for Wednesday's game, Bradbury said. ... Junior guard Nahawa Diarra Berthe returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since suffering a concussion Jan. 13 at Colorado State. Diarra Berthe has not been cleared for contact yet and will not play Wednesday.