Big Comeback Falls Short; Maluach Racks up Career-High 30 Points on 'Senior Night'
USAFA, Colo. — In its last ‘home’ game of the season, The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team executed a 25-point comeback on the back of a career-high performance from senior Makuach Maluach, but the comeback against the Wyoming Cowboys fell short Friday night as UNM lost 79-67.
Wyoming (12-9, 6-8 MW) jumped out to a 27-point lead (33-6) in the first half before the Lobos (5-13, 1-13 MW) roared back in the second to get as close as two points with under four minutes to go. It was the Cowboys that finished strong, going 12-2 over the remaining 3:49 for the win.
“We started off terrible and we were down big,” Maluach said. “I just did my best to give us momentum and make plays.”
Maluach scored a career-high 30 points on the night, going 11-for-19 from the floor, and was the only Lobo to score in double figures. Sophomore Emmanuel Kuac led UNM on the boards, matching his career-high seven rebounds.
Four Cowboys finished in double digits including junior Hunter Maldonado who posted a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds.
Wyoming started out strong opening on a 21-0 run that was eventually stopped by a layup from Maluach with 13:38 on the clock. Maluach added two more points for UNM just under three minutes later (23-4).
The Lobos had just six points on the board with 7:20 left in the first half as Wyoming had amassed its largest lead of the night, 27 points (33-6).
It was then that the New Mexico offense began to find its rhythm and the Lobos finished the half on an 18-8 run for the 17-point halftime score.
Maluach scored 16 of UNM’s 24 points in the first half with just four other players posting just two points apiece. New Mexico shot 36.7 percent from the field to 50 percent for the Cowboys.
UNM made it interesting in the second half as Maluach set the tone with a triple just 20 seconds into the period to cut the Cowboy lead down to 14.
Wyoming pushed it back to 21 with 14:24 left before UNM went on a 12-2 run over 2:42, sparked by a three from freshman Isaiah Marin, to cut the deficit to 11. The run also included two points from sophomore Jeremiah Francis III and five from junior Valdir Manuel. Manuel’s points included the sixth 3-pointer of the season for the big man.
The Lobos didn’t let up there. New Mexico remained down by 11 with just under 10 minutes left but outscored Wyoming 17-8 over the next 6:07 to make it a two-point game with 3:49 left on the clock.
Just after the Javonté Johnson jumper that made it 67-65 Cowboys, Wyoming’s Kwane Marble II hit a three, sparking a 12-2 run that finished out the game as the Cowboys ran away with the win.
New Mexico is scheduled to remain in Colorado and finish off the regular season with a series against the Air Force Falcons starting Monday, Feb. 22. Game one will air on CBS Sports Network at 7:30 p.m. followed by UNM’s regular-season finale on Wednesday at 4 p.m. on the Mountain West Network.
- The Lobos now lead the series over Wyoming 75-70.
- Friday’s loss marks just the third to Wyoming in head coach Paul Weir’s tenure (7-3).
- Wyoming now holds a narrow advantage in neutral contests, 5-4.
- The Lobo lineup consisted of Marin, Singleton, Maluach, Kuac and Matos marking the 10th starting lineup of the season
- UNM was led by one player in double figures with 30 points marking the first time this season a Lobo hit the 30-point benchmark.
- The Lobos shot 53.6 percent from the floor in the second half to make up for a dismal 36.7 percent in the first.
- Wyoming ultimately outshot the Lobos 48.2-44.8 percent on the night.
- The Cowboys outrebounded UNM 35-32.
- New Mexico outscored Wyoming in the paint (38-36).
- The Lobos outscored the Cowboys 43-38 in the second half after falling behind 41-24 at the half.
- Senior Makuach Maluach led the Lobos with 30 points.
- The contest also marks his 58th double-digit scoring game of his career, 14th of the season.
- He now posts 1,230 career points, ranking 22nd in Lobo all-time scoring history.
- Maluach is 10 points away from passing former Lobo great Cameron Bairstow (1,239) and 17 away from Marvin Johnson (1,246)
- Marvin “Automatic” Johnson holds the UNM record for most points scored in a game (50).
- Maluach started his 74th straight career contest on the night while competing in his 117th career game.
- Sophomore Emmanuel Kuac got his third career start and tied his career-high seven rebounds.