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Lobos Fall at Gonzaga 4-2

by Frank Mercogliano

SPOKANE, Wash. — The New Mexico Lobos became the first team this season to score upon the Gonzaga Bulldogs, but it just wasn’t enough as the Zag’s took a key match at No. 6 singles to thwart UNM’s upset bid as the Lobos fell 4-2 in Spokane at the Stevens Center.  UNM dropped to 0-2 and now heads home to host Santa Clara on Friday at 3 pm and Grand Canyon on Super Bowl Sunday at noon.

The Lobos were able to snag the doubles point when Rafael Abdulsalam and Georgio Samaha were able to break serve late and win the deciding doubles match at No. 3 with a 7-5 win.  It paired with UNM’s doubles win at No. 2 as Nicolas Prieto and Arda Azkara won 6-4, giving UNM a 1-0 lead.  It marked the first time this season any team had scored on Gonzaga, which had won its first three matches by identical 4-0 scores.

That lead didn’t hold as Gonzaga took the first three singles matches to go up 3-1.  Oliver Andersson beat Abdulsalam at No. 2 6-1, 6-4 and Arthur Bassetiere beat Daniil Kakhniuk at No. 3 singles 6-2, 6-3.  At No. 1, Azkara forced a second set tiebreaker but lost it, losing 6-2, 7-6 to Sasha Trkulja.

That put UNM in a hole, but the Lobos got a point back when Jan Pucalka bounced back from down a set for a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 win, his second straight win in the dual match season.  That made it 3-2 with the other two matches in third sets, but the Lobos lost when Samaha at No. 6 couldn’t close out a second set tiebreaker of his own, eventually falling 2-6, 7-6, 6-1.  Alex Maggs was down in his third set when the match ended.