Comeback Falls Short; Lobos Split with Air Force
USAFA, Colo. — After claiming the win in game one to halt a five-game skid, The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team dropped a seven-point final, 62-55, to the Air Force Falcons on Wednesday in the series finale. The Lobos overcame a 16-point deficit, tied the game and took the lead, but were unable to finish it out.
Senior Makuach Maluach registered his third-straight 20+ point game as he led UNM with 20 points going 8-for-14 from the floor and 3-for-7 from beyond the arc. He also led the team in assists with three.
A trio of Lobos scored seven points including redshirt-freshman Bayron Matos, junior Saquan Singleton and sophomore Jeremiah Francis III.
Sophomore Emmanuel Kuac also helped lead the Lobos with six points, six boards, two assists and a pair of steals.
With the loss, the Lobos are now 6-14 on the season, 2-14 in MW play, while Air Force improves to 5-17, 3-15 MW.
Air Force opened with a 15-2 run over the first seven minutes to make it a 13-point game and increased its lead to 16 (27-11) with 8:35 left on the clock. UNM cut the deficit to eight, with 3:16 left in the first half and neither team scored for the remainder of the period.
Maluach had 10 points at the conclusion of the first half and quickly made it 15. He burst out of the locker room with energy to score five straight points, including one from downtown, forcing Air Force to call a timeout.
Maluach’s triple capped a 10-0 run that started at the end of the second half and brought UNM within three at the 17:49 mark, 29-26.
Air Force added one point on a free throw after the timeout before Singleton hit a jumper to bring the game within two. Sophomore Jeremiah Francis III tied it with a driving layup, 30-30 and added another just less than two minutes later to give UNM its first and only lead of the game, 32-30, with 12:04 left.
The total Lobo run was 16-1 over a span of 14:31.
The Lobo lead lasted just 30 seconds however as Air Force’s Ameka Akaya drained two straight jumpers to tie the game at 32 apiece and give the Falcons back the lead, 34-32.
Air Force built a six-point lead over the next four minutes to lead 46-40 with 6:54 left to play. A 7-2 Falcon run made it an 11-point contest with 2:26 left that UNM could not come back from.
New Mexico got as close as four points with 40 seconds left, but the Falcons closed the game out on five free throws to two for UNM for the seven-point final.
Air Force had just two players score in double figures to one for New Mexico. Both teams finished relatively even on the stat sheet with both shooting in the 40-percentile range, however New Mexico outrebounded Air Force 40-30.
New Mexico is set to return to action in a make-up game against Colorado State on Wednesday, March 3 in Fort Collins. The game will air live on the Mountain West Network, time is TBA.
- The Lobos now lead the series over Air Force 62-25 including a 23-18 advantage inside Clune Arena.
- For the third straight game, the Lobo lineup consisted of Marin, Singleton, Maluach, Kuac and Matos
- Air Force outshot the Lobos 42.3 – 40.0 percent on the night.
- The Falcons connected on four from deep compared to five for UNM.
- Air Force outscored the Lobos in the paint 36-28.
- Air Force’s largest lead was 16 before the Lobos used a 10-0 run to come back.
- The Falcons led for 37:00.
- Senior Makuach Maluach led the Lobos with 20 points on the night.
- Maluach has posted three straight 20+ point games and five this season.
- The contest also marks his 60th double-digit scoring game of his career, 16th of the season.
- He now posts 1,272 career points, ranking 19th in Lobo all-time scoring history.
- Maluach passed former Lobo great Tony Danridge (1,260) on the night.
- Maluach started his 76th straight career contest on the night while competing in his 119th career game.
- Junior Valdir Manuel matched his career-high seven rebounds on the night to lead UNM on the boards.
- Manuel was followed by sophomore Emmanuel Kuac who pulled down six rebounds and scored six points while adding a pair of assists and a pair of steals.
- Kuac’s six points came from a pair of threes which he scored just 13 seconds apart as the clock wound down.