By George Hronich
For Enchantment Sports
The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team clinched second place in the Mountain West Conference with a 57-50 victory over the Wyoming Cowgirls (20-7, 13-5) in front of over 8,000 fans on Senior Night in the Pit on Thursday (March 7).
Senior post Jaisa Nunn led the Lobos with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Nunn joins men’s basketball players Kenny Thomas and Luc Longley in a Lobo milestone scoring over 1,500 points and pulling down over 900 rebounds.
The win means the Lobos (24-5, 14-4) will play on Monday night at 7 p.m. Mountain time against the winner of Sunday afternoon’s San Diego State/Air Force game in the quaterfinals of the MWC tournament. UNM split with SDSU during the regular season each team winning on their home floor. The Lobos beat Air Force by 21 in their only meeting.
New Mexico’s chances in Las Vegas may have taken a blow as junior point guard Aisia Robertson went down with a knee injury with less than a minute left in the third quarter. Going for a rebound she came down hard and a little awkward on her left knee. She had to be carried to the bench, not putting any weight at all on the leg. After the trainers looked her over she was carried up the ramp and did not return to the floor. Through the first three quarters Robinson had snagged seven rebounds and dished out four assists.
If Robertson is unable to come back healthy next week,the Lobos’ chances for winning the tournament go down, but this is a good team very capable of getting the automatic bid a tourney championship would bring. Freshman Jayla Everett was pressed into running the point for the final period. Everett would finish with six assists and also blocked three shots, a couple coming late on Wyoming three point attempts.
If UNM does not win the tourney in Las Vegas next week, chances of an at large bid are small. Most pundits are forecasting only the tournament champion will get a bid to go dancing. If UNM makes the championship game and loses, it might be somewhere on the bubble depending on what happens with other conference tournaments. The most likely scenario would be the chance of playing a few home games in the postseason WNIT; the Lobos appear to be a lock for that one if they cannot win the conference tournament.
The four seniors; Jaisa Nunn, Emily Lines, Nike McClure, and Erica Moore were honored before the game being presented jerseys and a flower bouquet. Nunn is going to be remembered as one of the best women’s players in Lobo history. Lines came in with Nunn as recruits from the previous coaching staff. Emily has had some injury problems and did not see much playing time this season. She has been a valuable team mate with her ability to help teach younger players. If she chooses to get into coaching, my opinion is that she could be a very good coach. A smart, fundamentally sound player.
Coming out of high school, Moore was a top 75 rated player and heavily recruited. She originally went to Purdue, then transferred to Wright St. When Mike Bradbury was hired as UNM’s coach, Moore followed him to Albuquerque. A couple serious injuries derailed her collegiate career, but has been a valuable team mate.
McClure quickly became a fan favorite with her bubbly outgoing personality. On the court she helped improve the Lobos defense and has over sixty blocked shots on the year. A graduate transfer from Washington St, this is Nike’s only year to be a Lobo and she has enjoyed the ride. A story that has been told a few times about her recruitment to New Mexico is Bradbury telling Nike he was going to win with her or without her and that helped in her decision to be a Lobo.
It should be an interesting tournament next week. Lobo coaches, players, and fans will be anxiously waiting on the health of Robertson. She is a leader on the floor and would be a big absence if she is unable to go.
George Hronich, a longtime fan and close follower of the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team, is covering the squad this season for Enchantment Sports. If you have any feedback, tips or story ideas for George, please email him at EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com.