Albuquerque Journal

Women: Fresno State vs. New Mexico

Thursday, 6 p.m., in Canyon Texas. Radio: 610 AM/95.9 FM. Streaming: themw.com (Game 2: Saturday, 11 a.m.)

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What you need to know about Fresno State: The preseason Mountain West favorites have won four straight and seem to be rounding into form. Fresno State swept two games from Boise State last week — the first in a 92-57 rout. It’s a fast-paced team led by the ultra-talented Cavinder twins, who rank first and second in the MWC in scoring and force the tempo at every opportunit­y. Utti, the reigning conference player of the year, has been battling a shoulder injury but remains one of the league’s top insideouts­ide threats. The Bulldogs rank third in the MWC in scoring (79.4 ppg) and 3-point percentage (34.6) and do an effective job playing to their strengths. FSU lacks height and ranks last in the league in rebounding margin (-4.5 per game). The Bulldogs frequently employ a zone defense and extend their pressure to force turnovers. They may prefer man-toman against UNM, which also has more quickness than size.

What you need to know about New Mexico:

The Lobos face a stiff challenge in what amounts to a first-place showdown in this season’s strange Mountain West race. Postponeme­nts and cancellati­ons have limited UNM to four league games, but a successful series against the Bulldogs could put the Lobos in a solid position in the standings. The teams have similar guard-oriented styles and figure to play at a breakneck pace. UNM leads the league in scoring (88.3 ppg), 3-pointers per game (11.3) and turnover margin (+4.0) and will need to play up to those standards. De La Cerda ranks third in the league in scoring and is coming off her best performanc­e of the season (28 points vs. UNLV). A key individual matchup will pit Anderson against FSU’s Utti. Anderson had a monster game (29 points) against UNLV but has been plagued by foul trouble this season.

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