Team Effort Leads Lobos Past Falcons, 73-65
USAFA, Colo. — The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team exhibited a well-rounded effort en route to a 73-65 victory on Monday night. Three Lobos scored in double figures while point guard Saquan Singleton dished 13 assists and UNM outrebounded the Falcons 37-22.
With the win, the Lobos (6-13, 2-13 MW) snap a five-loss streak while Air Force (4-17, 2-15 MW) extends its losing streak to 10 games.
New Mexico was led by senior Makuach Maluach who registered 22 points and seven rebounds. Maluach combined for 52 points over the last two games and has now reached 20th on the UNM all-time scorering list with 1,252 points.
Also leading the Lobos was junior Valdir Manuel who posted 14 points on a perfect 7-for-7 performance from the floor along with redshirt-freshman Bayron Matos who scored 13 points (6-7). Matos also helped lead the Lobo rebounding effort with seven boards.
New Mexico posted an outstanding seven dunks on the night as a team from Matos (2), Manuel (1) and Maluach (1), all led by sophomore Emmanuel Kuac who led the Lobos with three dunks. Kuac also tied his career-high nine points on the night.
The Lobos jumped in front early going on a 6-0 run that included a pair of jumpers from Maluach and an emphatic dunk by Kuac. UNM extended the lead to 10-2 before Air Force mounted a comeback attempt that included nine points from junior A.J. Walker and a triple from junior Abe Kinrade (15-14, UNM).
— Lobo Basketball (@UNMLoboMBB) February 23, 2021
UNM slowly built its lead back up for a seven-point advantage at the half, 32-25.
The Falcons, whose offense relies on the three, fired 12 from deep in the first half, going 4-for-12 from behind the arc, while UNM went 0-4 in the first half.
Air Force opened the second half with six straight points to narrow the Lobo lead to just one, 32-31, forcing UNM head coach Paul Weir to call a timeout.
Maluach made a layup out of the timeout to give UNM a three-point lead but the Falcons extended their run to 19-5 to take a seven-point advantage, 44-37 with 13:03 left to play.
The Lobos clawed back. Maluach hit a three to cut the deficit to four, 40-44, before Matos came behind with the slam dunk just 43 seconds later to make it a two-point game, 44-42. Maluach added a pair of free throws to make it a 7-0 run and tie the game again, 44-44.
Neither team was able to gain a significant lead and the game was tied 54-54 with 6:53 to play before UNM went on another 7-0 run sparked by a Singleton layup.
Kuac then hit a three at the 6:06 mark, followed it immediately with a steal at the other end of the court and brought it right back for his third dunk of the night to make it 61-54 Lobos.
Back-to-back buckets for Emmanuel Kuac. First he nails the three and then grabs the steal and finishes with the dunk. He’s got his Lobos up by seven with just under six to play.#GoLobos pic.twitter.com/rCnpD34dCg
— Lobo Basketball (@UNMLoboMBB) February 23, 2021
New Mexico was ahead by as many as 10 points as the clock wound down (1:39) on the way to the final eight-point victory.
On the night, UNM outshot Air Force 58.8 – 42.6 percent from the floor marking the Lobos’ second-highest shot percentage of the season after shooting 59 percent against Our Lady of the Lake.
The Lobos and the Falcons will return to action Wednesday at 4 p.m. on the Mountain West Network.
- The Lobos now lead the series over Air Force 62-24 including a 23-17 advantage inside Clune Arena.
- For the second straight game, the Lobo lineup consisted of Marin, Singleton, Maluach, Kuac and Matos
- The Lobos posted seven dunks on the night.
- UNM outshot Air Force 58.8 – 42.6 percent.
- 58.8 percent marks the second-highest percentage of the season for the Lobos after shooting 59 percent from the floor against Our Lady of the Lake.
- The game featured two lead changes and four ties with UNM leading for 31.24.
- The Lobos led at the half and are now 2-2 in conference play when leading at the half.
- New Mexico outscored Air Force in the paint, 44-32.
- UNM outrebounded Air Force 37-22.
- Senior Makuach Maluach led the Lobos with 22 points and seven rebounds.
- The contest also marks his 59th double-digit scoring game of his career, 15th of the season.
- He now posts 1,252 career points, ranking 20th in Lobo all-time scoring history.
- Maluach passed former Lobo greats Cameron Bairstow (1,239) and Marvin Johnson (1,246) on the night.
- Marvin “Automatic” Johnson holds the UNM record for most points scored in a game (50).
- In game two, Maluach will look to pass former Lobo greats Tony Danridge (1,260) and Elijah Brown (1,276) with nine and 25 points, respectively.
- Maluach started his 75th straight career contest on the night while competing in his 118th career game.
- Junior Valdir Manuel went a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor racking up 14 points to go along with two rebounds, two assists and one steal.
- Sophomore Emmanuel Kuac tied his career-high nine points while registering three dunks.
- Prior to the night’s contest, Kuac had posted just one dunk all season.
- Redshirt-freshman Bayron Matos went 6-for-7 from the floor for 13 points to go along with seven rebounds and a pair of blocks.
- Matos also posted two dunks.