Preview: Auburn at UNM, 2nd Round of WNIT

Joe Auletta

(Stats are from 2017-18) UNM Auburn
2017-18 Record 1-0 2-0

Auburn returns only six players from last season’s 14-15 team, but all six started at least 12 games, and they represent the top three scores from last season (and 80% of last year’s offence) as well as three of the top four rebounders (and 60% of the total rebounds). The also add an experienced Junior transfer from Duke. This is the kind of mix that can lead to significant improvement from one season to the next.
They lived last season off a pressure defense that turned the opponents over 16 times a game (13 steals) resulting in 22 points off those TOs. When they scored it was typically fast breaks and layups, with only a quarter of their shots from three-point range. They hit 43% of those two point shots, but only 27% from deep.
5’6” senior point guard, #33 Janiah McKay led the team in scoring (16.6) and assists last season, and was second in rebounds. Her running mate 5’8” junior Daisa Alexander had almost three steals a game and was the second leading scorer at 14.2 per game. Together they accumulated almost half the team’s points. Assuming the Lobos plan as they did against Texas State, this will be another tough test for Jayla defensively, but she will have a height advantage again—though less than last game.
Inside the big threat is 6’3 soph Unique Thompson, #20. As a freshman she was third in scoring and led the team in rebounding by a wide margin, with over 100 offensive rebounds. Her back-up is another 6’3” soph, Abigayle Jackson who played just under 10 min per game.
Four keys for the Lobos:
–Both teams will likely want to run, whichever runs with more poise will likely win
–Handle Auburn’s pressure and take better care of the ball than they did early against Texas State
–Use Jaisa’s and Nike’s experience edge to get an inside advantage against Auburn’s younger posts
–Defend the perimeter as well as they did against Texas State—likely a much tougher task since Auburn has more scoring threats than Texas State did