basketball

University of New Mexico hoopster leaves school after recent gun violence

Lobos freshman Brooke Berry, right, here with teammate Hannah Robbins, has chosen to leave the UNM program. Berry’s mother, Amy, said her daughter was frightened by violence in and around the UNM campus. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal)

Brooke Berry’s brief time as a member of the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team came to an end Monday.

Berry, a freshman from Billings, Montana, and her parents informed Lobos coach Mike Bradbury that she was leaving the school because of recent violent crime on and around the campus. Saturday’s fatal shooting that led to the evening’s UNM-New Mexico State men’s basketball game being postponed was a significant factor in their decision.

Berry’s mother, Amy Berry, said in a phone interview Monday night that her daughter did not feel safe. Brooke, who lived at Lobo Village just west of the Pit, informed her parents about two previous incidents there involving gunfire prior to Saturday’s shooting on UNM’s main campus.

“Saturday was really the last straw,” Amy said. Brooke really likes the basketball team and she wanted to stick it out, but she was scared. She called us Sunday morning crying and said, ‘I want to come home,’ so her dad and I drove down 14 hours to get her. If something happened to her, we’d never forgive ourselves.”

Amy said two previous incidents of gunfire near her daughter’s apartment concerned the family.

“Brooke called when a shooting was happening and she was hiding in the bathtub,” Amy said. “I was thinking, ‘This is crazy.’ ”

Brooke, a 6-foot guard/forward, had been elected last week to redshirt after not appearing in the Lobos’ first two regular-season games. She was on the bench but not in uniform for the Lobos’ games at New Mexico State and Sunday against Arizona State.

Bradbury confirmed Berry’s decision to leave the program and said he informed the team on Monday. Bradbury declined further comment.

Berry will complete her current UNM classes online and enter the transfer portal, Amy said.

“It’s a shame because New Mexico has a great team, a great venue,” Amy said. We really wanted it to work. But basketball’s only a small part of life. You have to be safe.”

Berry’s departure leaves UNM with 14 players on its roster. Two other freshmen, Natalia Chavez and Hannah Robbins, are taking redshirt seasons.

PIT STOP CONCLUDES: With a quick turnaround between Sunday and Tuesday home games, Bradbury did not devote much time to scouting Western New Mexico.

“(Monday’s) practice was really about working on us,” he said. Our priority right now is to just keep pushing in the right direction. We’re making progress but we’ve still got a lot of things we need to improve on.”

Tuesday’s game against Division II WNMU offers something of a respite after opening the season with four challenging games, two of them on the road. The Lobos will go back on the road after Thanksgiving, playing at Texas A&M Commerce on Saturday and at Nicholls State on Tuesday before returning to host nationally ranked Arizona on Dec. 4.

UNM is holding a “Thanks for Giving” promotion for Tuesday’s game with $6 tickets available to fans who donate two non-perishable food items. Donations benefit the Lobo Food Pantry.

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