Lobo basketball women: Sophomore Augmon 'ahead of schedule' as she adjusts her role

Jan. 25—Last season, Aniyah Augmon was known as the UNM women's basketball team's Energizer Bunny.

Now her batteries are being put to a stiffer test.

Augmon, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard, earned a role as designated pest last season, coming off the bench primarily to play aggressive defense and give the Lobos a quick spark. She averaged just 1.4 points, playing 9.5 minutes per game.

One season later, Augmon's job description has changed. Going into Thursday's Mountain West home game against Colorado State, Augmon has doubled her playing time and is being counted on to run the Lobos' offense in high-leverage situations.

In Saturday's 76-68 win over Boise State, Augmon was playing point guard late in a close game with starter LaTora Duff playing off the ball.

"I'm not really used to it yet," Augmon said of running the offense, "but I'm glad I'm being trusted in those situations. It's a bigger role, and I feel like my coaches and teammates are being patient with me when I make mistakes. I'm just trying to work as hard as I can and keep getting better."

Augmon's numbers have been trending upward in every category. She's averaging 5.8 points for the season but 9.1 in Mountain West play. Augmon already has logged more minutes than she did in 33 games over the course of 2021-22.

"She's probably ahead of schedule," Lobos coach Mike Bradbury said after Wednesday's practice. "The long-term goal was always to play Aniyah at point guard, but she's made huge improvements this year and earned more time."

Augmon is a fan favorite because of her nonstop hustle and willingness to mix it up inside against bigger players. But her improvement on offense this season has been noteworthy, particularly 3-point shooting. Augmon was just 1-for-9 from behing the arc last season. She's 8-for-20 this season — 6-for-11 in MWC play.

"For me, that's a shocker," she said with a smile. "I've never really looked for 3s, but my team is always cheering me on. If they have confidence in me, I need to have confidence in myself."

Augmon and the Lobos (11-9, 3-4) will be tested Thursday against one of the Mountain West's top guard lines. Colorado State (13-6, 6-2) leads the conference in scoring and offensive efficiency behind standout point guard McKenna Hofschild.

It's a matchup Augmon looks forward to — because the Rams play at her own preferred pace.

"They're high-intensity, go-go-go," Augmon said. "We have to match their aggressiveness, especially early, get back in transition and just stay focused. We didn't do that last time we played them."

Bradbury agreed, saying his team was at least a step slow in its 76-65 loss at CSU on Jan. 7.

"(The Rams) just killed us in transition," he said. "We were in a huge hole almost right away and never really recovered. We have to come out with a lot more intensity this time."

Thursday's game marks UNM's first rematch with a MWC opponent and is part of a key stretch as the Lobos look to move up in the standings. Three of UNM's next four games are at home against CSU, San Diego State and UNLV — teams New Mexico lost to on the road.

Bradbury is not planning any immediate changes in his season-long starting lineup, but fans can expect to see plenty of Augmon coming off the bench.

"Aniyah's intensity is always good," he said. "We need to play at the right pace, and that's never a problem for her."