UNM bounces back with big win over Fresno State

By Matthew Narvaiz
sports@taosnews.com
Posted 1/8/20

The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team didn’t look like the same team that lost on the road to San Jose State last Wednesday (Jan. 1).

But they didn’t exactly look polished either. Still, the Lobos made baskets when it mattered and had a strong second half on their way to a 78-64 victory at the Pit on Tuesday evening (Jan. 7).

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UNM bounces back with big win over Fresno State

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The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team didn’t look like the same team that lost on the road to San Jose State last Wednesday (Jan. 1). 

But they didn’t exactly look polished either. Still, the Lobos made baskets when it mattered and had a strong second half on their way to a 78-64 victory at the Pit on Tuesday evening (Jan. 7). 

The Lobos got a strong individual performance from Vance Jackson, however, who led all scorers with 29 points –– one point below his career high –– on 9-of-12 shooting from the field. Six of those shots came from beyond the arc. Jackson also had 13 rebounds, giving him a double-double on the night. 

“The good thing for Makuach (Maluach) and Vance (Jackson) and Zane (Martin) is they’re getting wide open shots right now,” UNM head coach Paul Weir said. “People have looked at the percentages and they are giving them great looks at the basket.” 

UNM’s first points of the game came by way of a Corey Manigault layup after he was set up nicely by a pass from Zane Martin. But the Lobos quickly lost control and allowed three 3-pointers in the first five minutes from Fresno State. 

After an 8-0 run by the Bulldogs (5-11, 1-4 Mountain West) ensued, Jackson finally put a stop to it for UNM (14-3, 3-1) after hitting his first 3-pointer of the game –– and then another one shortly after –– to shorten the Bulldogs’ lead to just three points early in the first half. 

However, the Lobos allowed some easy shots midway through the first half and again found themselves down by more than one possession. That’s where Makuach Maluach came in. The 6-7 wing hit two back-to-back 3-pointers to give UNM its first lead since the start of regulation. 

The Bulldogs battled, though, and Anthony Holland hit a 3-pointer to put them back up 27-25 with about seven minutes left in the first half. 

Maluach was able to hit another 3-pointer –– his third in the half –– later in the frame, and the Lobos capitalized off that. Vante Hendrix checked in late in the half and quickly made a layup to put UNM up by five points. 

But it was Jackson –– the last Lobo to score in the frame –– who hit UNM’s sixth 3-pointer with about two minutes left in the first half.

“I just thought we had a rough start to the game,” Weir said. “I thought they made some plays and they came out with some really good pop. … We just kind of grinded our way through it, worked our way back, then got a lead and extended it and extended it. And I thought for 35 minutes or so, we played much better basketball.”

Entering the second half with a 41-37 lead, Jaquan Lyle quickly stole the ball on FSU’s first possession and launched a high bounce pass to Manigault –– who caught it in the air with a defender on him –– before missing a dunk attempt. He was fouled in the process, however, and made 1-of-2 free throws. 

More impressively, though, was Maluach who scored four points in the early going of the second half, including an emphatic dunk that got the Pit crowd going. 

UNM’s defense was good in the early minutes of the second half, too. But FSU quickly hit two 3-pointers –– one from Jarred Hyder and the other from New Williams –– to bring them within four points. 

Jackson, however, quickly squashed any sort of run by the Bulldogs as he hit his fourth shot from beyond the arc to put UNM up 50-43 with about 15 minutes left in regulation. 

Later in the second half, UNM got an important offensive rebound from Jackson, who was fouled after attempting a layup shortly after. He made both free throws to put the Lobos up 71-60 with less than five minutes to play. 

Not long after, Jackson hit a 3-pointer to put UNM up by 16 points. 

By that point, UNM had full control. That forced the Bulldogs to take a timeout with 3:04 to play, but they didn’t make much of it.

UNM held the ball on its offensive possessions and didn’t have much trouble breaking FSU’s full court press. 

Weir said that he was proud of his team for picking up a win after having lost to SJSU last week. 

“I think it’s more of a testament to our players and the character of our guys for having the resilience and some really good bounce back off of defeat,” Weir said. 

Lyle had 14 points and 10 assists, also giving him a double-double. Maluach finished with 13 points and Manigualt with 10 points, respectively. 

As a team, UNM shot 46.6 percent from the field and also went 9-for-22 from beyond the arc. 

The Lobos had one less turnover (16) than FSU, but more impressive was their 20 fast break points during the game. 

Up next for the Lobos is a match against Air Force at the Pit on Saturday (Jan. 11) at the Pit. The Falcons are coming off of a 79-60 win over Utah State. 

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