New Mexico has proven to be everything Angela Hartill wanted when the Riverside graduate decided to continue her basketball career in Albuquerque.
“It’s a great program, awesome support, a good business school because I’m majoring in accounting. All in all it has turned out good,” the senior said on the eve of opening her final tour through the Mountain West Conference. “And I don’t miss the snow at all.”
The Lobos have also been successful.
Under coach Don Flanagan, who took over in 1995, UNM has had 12 straight winning seasons and 11 consecutive postseason berths, the past seven in the NCAA tournament.
“It’s a very special experience,” Hartill said. “I kind of feel honored to make it. It reflects all of our hard work through out the season. Our goal is always to make it to the NCAA tournament.”
In addition to an annual trip to the Big Dance, with Hartill on the roster the Lobos, 11-2 this season, have gone 77-34. That helps explain why New Mexico is among the top 10 in attendance every year, including sixth last year with 8,638 at “The Pit.”
“It’s amazing. Our fans are the best fans in the nation,” Hartill said. “They’re loud, crazy obnoxious. They pick us up when we’re down or momentum is shifting.”
Hartill has made a slow, steady climb to a leadership role. She is second on the team in scoring (12.5) and rebounding (5.0) and is shooting 88.4 percent from the foul line. She has played in all 111 games, starting 37 prior to this year.
“I honestly had no idea what to expect when I came here,” she said. “I knew college was a different level and they had post players ahead of me who had already proven themselves. I had to battle. I started off kind of slow, but this year I’m trying to go all out and have no regrets.
“I’m up to the challenge. I’m a senior. It should be my time to lead the team, doing what I can to help us win.”
As for being away from home, homesickness was never an issue. Her parents are divorced, so her mom moved with her.
“She’s working, coming to games whenever she can, being supportive, being a mom,” Hartill said. “Dad and my friends are up north. I do miss them, but not as big of an effect as other players who have their entire family back home.”
The Lobos’ two losses this year were on the road to top-five teams, Stanford and Texas A&M.
“Those are two pretty bad losses,” Hartill said. “All we can do from that is learn from our experience. They’re definitely ranked for a reason. … We did not play to our potential. That’s very frustrating. I know we can play better than that.”
Once she gets her degree, Hartill will consider playing overseas or joining the real world.
“I like warm weather, don’t like being cold,” she said. “I’ll stay in the south.”
Gonzaga (12-4) opens league play Saturday afternoon at Portland (7-7). … The Bulldogs lead the league in scoring (74.3) and are second in defense (61.6) for a scoring margin of plus-12.7, well ahead of Loyola Marymount (10-4) at 4.1. … GU junior Heather Bowman, the reigning player of the year, leads in scoring at 20.1, with sophomore Courtney Vandersloot seventh at 15.1 and first in assists at 7.0. … Bowman is fourth in rebounding (8.7).
Washington State (7-5, 0-1) heads to the Bay Area to face No. 13 California (11-2, 2-0) on Thursday and No. 11 Stanford (11-3, 2-0) on Saturday afternoon. … Washington (5-6, 1-0) plays at Cal on Sunday at 12:30 on FSN. … Arizona State (8-6, 0-2) is at Oregon State (9-3, 0-2) on Thursday night, the first matchup of ASU senior Briann January and Beavers freshman Brittany Kennedy, both Lewis and Clark graduates.
Eastern Washington (7-8, 2-0), already with three more wins than last season, is at Idaho State (4-10, 1-0) on Thursday and Weber State (5-8, 0-1) on Saturday. … Julie Piper, a 6-1 junior from Roseburg, Ore., averaged 18 points and nine rebounds in the Eagles’ league sweep of Northern Arizona and Sacramento State.
Idaho is at San Jose on Thursday and Fresno State Saturday. … The 31 points Vandals junior Derisa Taleni scored in Monday’s 71-63 win over Utah State was the most by a WAC player this season. She had hit just eight of her previous 3-pointers (.140) before sinking 5 of 6.