ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — The 2014-15 New Mexico women’s basketball team displayed its versatility Friday night at the Pit.
Hip-hop, country, line dancing — the Lobos handled them all.
Such was the women’s portion of the annual Lobo Howl, a mixture of nervousness, some impressive 3-point shooting and a crowd-pleasing-if-corny dance routine.
Basketball was less a priority than fun for coach Yvonne Sanchez and her players, who will resume serious season preparation with an open officiated Saturdaay morning.
Most entertaining was the grand finale, a dance routine that players had worked on for the past two days.
“It was super fun,” junior Bryce Owens said. “Forget about the rest of the practice — the dance was great.”
Seniors Ebony Walker and Antiesha Brown had much to do with the production. It was choreographed by one of Brown’s friends, who is a hip-hop dance instructor at a local community center.
“She was out there making sure we stayed on point,” Brown said with a grin. “She took it really serious. I hope we didn’t make her look bad.”
Some players displayed more rhythm than others, but all seemed to warm to the task when fans began clapping along to the music.
“Josie (Greenwood) was the most nervous,” Walker said, “but she did really good. I think you could tell who was nervous, though, because we didn’t have many volunteers for the front row.”
Saving the dance routine for last may have been good planning because several players appeared nervous during spotlight introductions and full-court drills. More than a few shots and passes sailed wide before players began to feel comfortable.
“It was definitely a little shaky for a while,” Sanchez said. “But after the nerves settled down, the players enjoyed it so much. This is really for them and for the fans.”
One player who did not seem fazed by the large crowd was Jayda Bovero. The freshman guard outgunned junior Brea Mitchell in the final round to win the annual 3-point contest.
Mitchell sizzled in the first round, hitting 16 of 25 to top freshman Cherise Beynon. But Bovero hit 13 to Mitchell’s 12 in the final round.
“Brea and I come in to shoot together at night,” Bovero said, “so it was kind of ironic that I went up against her. I was fortunate to win. She’s a great shooter.”
Bovero, a 5-foot-11 guard from Farr West, Utah, said she’d been looking forward to her first Lobo Howl.
“They talked about it when I was being recruited,” Bovero said, “and it was very cool. I guess ‘Wow’ would describe my first impression.”
Bovero said she was more excited than nervous about shooting and playing in front of the crowd. Dancing was another matter.
“If I was nervous about anything,” Bovero said, “it was that. I hope we weren’t too bad.”
Owens was realistic in her appraisal.
“We’re not the best dancing team,” she said, “but we did the best we could. We’ll be a lot more serious (today) at the scrimmage. Time to clean things up.”