The New Mexico Lobos were a 7-point underdogs at Bradley on Saturday night (Dec. 1), but didn’t play that role. The Lobos (5-1)took a nine-point lead and went on to defeat Bradley 85-75. The Braves fall to 6-3.
STORY COURTESY OF GOLOBOS.COM (box at bottom of Bradley story)
Look for Lobo story on Enchantment Sports on Tuesday
PEORIA, Ill. — The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team earned an 85-75 victory over Bradley University on the road on Saturday night. Senior Anthony Mathis, who averaged 4.0 3-pointers per game prior to Saturday, scored seven on the night en route to 23 points to lead the Lobos.
With the victory, UNM improves to 4-1 while Bradley slips to 6-3.
Saturday’s game also marked the finale of the 2018 Mountain West / Missouri Valley Challenge. Prior to the game, the Mountain West was down 5-4, but the Lobo victory made it 5-5 and marked the third consecutive season that the challenge resulted in a tie. Also of note on the night, Lobo assistant coach and Bradley alum Jerome Robinson was officially inducted into the Braves’ Hall of Fame for his outstanding accomplishments during his time at Bradley.
Mathis led UNM with his 23 points, 18 of which came on six 3-pointers in the first half, to finish just two points short of his career high (25). He was followed by junior Corey Manigault who scored 18 and fellow senior Dane Kuiper who tallied 15. Manigault registered the only double-double on the floor for the night with 18 points and 11 rebounds. He went 4-for-9 from the floor and 10-for-11 from the free throw line. Kuiper was 6-for-10 from the floor, 2-for-5 from behind the arc and 1-for-1 from the stripe.
Much like the first few games of the season, the Lobos started out slow on Saturday and even got behind by as much as 11 points before roaring back to take the lead and claim the victory.
“You have to tip your cap to Bradley, I thought the first five or so minutes of the game was terrific and I thought the last 8-10 minutes was a very good basketball team working to get back,” head coach Paul Weir said. “Fortunately that 20-25 minutes or so in the middle, we were really able to establish our style of play and do it in such a way that it overcame that last 15 minutes that we still have to improve upon.”
Bradley opened the contest on an 11-0 run over the first 2:34 on a starting lineup that consisted of a trio of freshmen, Tavian Percy, Drue Drinnon and Jordan Arroyo, along with Kuiper and sophomore Makuach Maluach. A jumper from sophomore Vladimir Pinchuk, who until Saturday night was UNM’s lone consistent starter, at the 16:44 mark started the scoring for UNM.
The Lobos were quick to get back in it, however, taking a 10-point Brave lead (14-4) down to two (16-14) within 2:56 on a 10-2 run. The run included a pair of threes from Mathis.
A three from Bradley’s Nate Kennell at the 8:28 mark put the Braves up by four, 22-18, but a Mathis 3-pointer just 38 seconds later brought the Lobos within one, 22-21.
Mathis followed with another less than a minute later to give the Lobos their first lead of the game, 24-22. Bradley’s Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye made a jumper to tie it at 24-24 before Mathis followed with yet another from behind the arc, his fifth of the game to take a three-point lead that the Lobos never again relinquished.
UNM extended the first-half lead to eight with 2:46 left on a jumper and a dunk by Manigault before Bradley whittled it back to four, 36-32.
The Lobo seniors closed the first half in style as Dane Kuiper dunked with 46 seconds left and Mathis hit his sixth three of the night with nine seconds on the clock for a nine-point lead at the half, 41-32.
UNM held onto a double-digit advantage for most of the second half en route to the 85-75 victory. It was Kuiper and Manigault that led the Lobos in the second frame. Kuiper scored 11 points including a pair of 3-pointers while Manigault scored twice from the floor and added eight free throws for 12 second-half points.
The Lobos turned Bradley over 15 times, including four in a two-minute span during UNM’s first-half run.
For just the second time this season, UNM outrebounded its opponent, 40-33. The Lobos also outshot their opponent in every category. UNM was 43.3 percent (26-60) from the field, 37.5 percent (12-32) from 3-point range and 87.5 percent (21-24) from the free throw line.
UNM held Bradley to 43.1 percent from the floor (25-58), 35 percent from three (35 percent) and Bradley shot 62.1 percent from the free throw line.
Bradley outscored the Lobos in the paint 32-24 and off of turnovers 17-15, but UNM held the advantage in second-half points, 16-11, and in points off of the bench, 60-11. Mathis’ 23 points ranks him tied for 13th in program history with most points off the bench.
Both the Braves and the Lobos had three players score in double figures. Mathis led all players on the night but the other 20-point scorer on the floor was Bradley’s Darrell Brown, who posted 20 on 7-for-15 from the field and 3-for-6 from behind the arc. Lautier-Ogunleye followed with 16 and standout Elijah Childs was held to 13.
The Lobos return to action on Tuesday, Dec. 4 when they take on New Mexico State in Las Cruces. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
Junior Darrell Brown led the Braves with 20 points on the night, making 7-of-15 field goals and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. Classmate Nate Kennell added a season-best 16 points, while sophomore Elijah Childsjust missed his third double-double of the season with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Junior Koch Bar led the Braves on the glass with a season-best 12 rebounds to go with eight points.
Bradley caught fire early in the game and raced to an 11-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest. The Braves made their first four shots of the game, including three from beyond the arc, to gain the early momentum.
New Mexico, however, fought back and used a strong finish to the first period to pull ahead at the intermission. With a slight one-point edge, 29-28, the Lobos were able to get some cushion thanks to a 12-4 spurt over the final four minutes for a 41-32 advantage at the break.
The Lobos carried their momentum into the second half and pushed their lead to 14 points, 52-38, with 14:33 remaining in the contest. The Braves would respond though and used a 10-0 run of their own to get back into the game. Five different players scored during the stretch as Bradley would eventually pull within three, 55-52.
BU would not get any closer, however, and New Mexico made its final 14 free throws of the game to seal the 85-75 win.
Bradley shot 43.1 percent to 43.3 percent for the Lobos. New Mexico would make five more 3-pointers though (12-7) and three more free throw (21-18) to earn the victory.
The Braves return to action on Tuesday with a road contest at Little Rock. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m.
Game Notes: Brown is the fourth Brave this season to score 20 points in a game … The junior also raised his career point total to 984 and is just 16 shy of becoming the 47th player in school history with 1,000 … Bar’s 12 rebounds are his most since collecting 14 against Georgia Southern on Nov. 25, 2017 … Bradley is allowing 80.3 points in its three losses, while surrendering just 61.3 in its six wins … The Missouri Valley Conference – Mountain West Challenge finished in a 5-5 tie for the third-straight year.