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Under the radar: Freshman Langermann key to UNM women's success

Feb. 29—Lara Langermann's numbers this season are not likely to wow anyone.

The University of New Mexico women's basketball team's freshman guard is averaging 2.8 points and roughly two rebounds and an assist per game. Contributing, yes, but not exactly burning up the offensive stat sheet.

Lobos coach Mike Bradbury couldn't care less.

Using a different set of metrics, Bradbury is delighted with Langermann's contributions this season. In fact, he can't imagine that UNM (20-9, 11-5 Mountain West) would be in sole possession of second place in the conference standings without her.

"We have a lot of trust in Lara," Bradbury said after Thursday's practice at the Davalos Basketball Center. "She plays a lot of important minutes, plays good defense and just does whatever we need her to do. She's taken on a lot as a freshman and handled herself really well."

Langermann, who arrived in New Mexico from Germany last summer as a 17-year-old (she's 18 now), smiled when asked about her first full season in the United States and hitting the proverbial freshman wall.

"To me it feels like this season went by really fast," Langermann said. "Playing in Europe and on the (German) National Team, we played most of the year. I don't feel worn down at all. I'm ready to go."

Langermann had a fairly typical outing in UNM's 63-60 win over San Diego State at the Pit on Wednesday. She scored three points, grabbed a rebound and made a steal in 20 minutes off the bench.

What fans may not have noticed is that Langermann also filled in for four Lobo starters at various times, allowing Aniyah Augmon, Nyah Wilson, Viané Cumber and Paula Reus to take needed breaks.

"That's what makes Lara so valuable," Bradbury said. "She can play all four guard spots and knows the different roles on offense and defense. She's the only player we move around like that, which allows our other guards to just focus on one spot."

Langermann has made six starts this season, stepping in when Augmon, Reus and Cumber missed games because of injury. She doesn't mind coming off the bench, however.

"Not at all," she said. "I didn't expect so much playing time this season and I really like my role. I feel like I need to focus on defense and on offense, just keep the ball moving, try to make sure we get a good shot."

Creating her own shot has been less of a priority. Since Mountain West play began, Langermann has attempted more than three shots in a game just four times. On seven occasions, she attempted either one shot or none at all.

Bradbury said the 5-foot-7 Langermann has a green light to shoot so long as it comes within UNM's offense. She has let the ball fly at times, including in Saturday's 59-58 win at Wyoming, when Langermann went 3-for-7 from the floor and scored nine points.

"The opponent and the game really dictate her role on offense," he said. "Different teams try to take away different things. When teams try to take away the drive, that's when Lara's going to have opportunities — and we expect her to take them."

Langermann said she's getting adjusted to Mountain West basketball, which has included a slew of close, intense games this season. She expects more of the same with just two more regular-season games left before the Mountain West tournament.

"It's really nerve-wracking having so many games come down to the very last minute," she said. "I've never played a season like this before. But I'm glad I've been in the game for a lot of the close endings. It's nerve-wracking but it's even worse on the bench."

The Lobos host Nevada on Saturday at 2 p.m. for their home finale.