Preview: Lobo Women Host Hartford

Joe Auletta

Stats are from 2018-19 UNM Hartford
2017-18 Record 25-11 14-15
2018-19 Record 1-1 1-2
Scoring 79.0 61.0
Defense 65 64.3
Scoring Margin 14 -3.3
Rebounding Margin 0.5 -11.0
TO Margin 4 6.7
Foul Margin -2.5 -5.7
# of 3 pt shots per game 30 21
3 pt shooting % 32% 28%
Returning players 6 7
Returning starters 1 4
# players > 10 min/gm 9 7

Sunday’s game against Hartford (1-2 so far this season) will have some similarities to the most recent Lobo opponent, Auburn. Both opponents play a lot of 1-2-2 zone, so how well the Lobos can feed the post, and how well they can shoot the three-point shot, will both be important keys. Like Auburn, Hartford also has a defensive philosophy built around turning their opponents over—so far in three games they have caused almost 23 TOs a game (surprisingly, only about a third of them vis steals). Poise and protecting the ball will be critical, as Hartford has scored over 20 ppg off the turnovers they cause.
Unlike Auburn, the Hawks have not been a good rebounding team, -11 per game. The Lobos will have a significant size advantage among the post starters as 6’1” grad transfer #10, Ella Awobajo (from Boston College) is the only post who starts. Hartford does have five other players 6’ and above (three freshmen, a soph, and a transfer) who have played a total of 24 minutes combined in the first three games.
The Hawks do return a fair bit of experience, with four starters back from 2017-18. The leading scorer has been #2, junior guard Sierra DaCosta who has been shooting 63% from the field and 40% from three point range. She may have improved markedly from last season, or the showing so far may be an anomaly, or she is finally healthy: last year she shot 35% and 28% in the 18 games she played. Other than DaCosta, the rest of the team has shot only 28% in 2018-19.
5’8” senior guard, Lindsey Abed, #5, was last year’s leading scorer at 13.4 ppg, and this season has taken the most shots attempted (37) and is averaging 9 ppg on 24% shooting. Along with DaCosta, she has accounted for half the long distance shots Hartford has attempted. Last season, besides leading the team in scoring, she also led in assists, and was second in rebounds. This year she leads them in steals and assists.
The third player to watch is the grad transfer, #10, Awobajo. She leads the team with 7.7 rebounds per game, and is second in scoring with 10.3 ppg. She also leads them in fouls, but has still managed to play better than 30 minutes per game. Her back-up seems to be junior Lawrencia Moten, 6’2”—however when Awobajo comes out they have also gone to a five-guard line-up at times.
In Lobo news, Nike McClure was running at near full speed in practice on Friday, and she looked to be working on the coaches to convince them she was ready to go.  The coaches gave no indication whether they agreed with Nike’s self assessment.