Mathis’ shooting, Lobos’ press leads to big road win for UNM hoops
PEORIA, Ill. ? Anthony Mathis flashed a knowing glance at UNM assistant coach Jerome Robinson as the Lobo senior walked to the locker room at halftime Saturday night in the Carver Center.
The look came only moments after Mathis sank his sixth 3-pointer of the opening half to carry his team to a comfortable 9-point lead at the break. Robinson, the former Braves star, stayed back in the arena to be inducted into the Bradley Athletics Hall of Fame.
“He asked me Friday what was the best thing I ever did here,” Robinson said. “I told him one of them was hitting eight 3-pointers in a game. He told me he was going to destroy it.”
Mathis came close. He continued his blistering start to his final season, hitting seven 3-pointers and scoring a game-high 23 points to carry his Lobos to an 85-75 win over the Braves in front of an announced crowd of 5,494 in the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Conference challenge series.
The win for the Lobos (4-1), which evened this year’s challenge series at 5-5, was described by coach Paul Weir as maybe the best he’s at UNM; it was a non-conference road win against a team is expected to compete for a league championship, and it was accomplished with so many of the program’s calling cards in play.
“I think it was building for a while,” Weir said. “I wish things were just a normal straight trajectory, but they’re not. ? I’m going to ballpark tonight was probably 20-28 minutes I thought were exactly what we want to do. I don’t know if we’ve ever had that (this season). We might have had 10 minutes. Maybe 20 minutes. But I don’t know if we’ve ever gotten that much out of a game. So that was really good progress for us.”
After starting an a familiar early game hole (11-0 in the first 2? minutes), the Lobos ?press, for the first time this season, dictated the terms of a game.
The Braves (6-3) looked rushed and uncomfortable with UNM’s pressure throughout. With a 19-14 lead at a media timeout with 10:57 remaining in the opening half, the Lobos clamped down. The first four Bradley possessions out of that timeout resulted in turnovers:
A 10-second violations vs. UNM’s press with 10:40 on the clock
A shot clock violation at 9:59
A Nate Kennell turnover on a bad pass trying to break the press at 9:43
An Elijah Childs turnover on another bad pass vs. the press at 9:04
The Lobos closed outscored Bradley 27-13 to lead 41-32 at the half. The lead was as many as 15 in the second half.
And while the Braves made a brief second-half run, they clearly didn’t have the legs to complete the comeback thanks to UNM’s defense.
“It was dangerous tonight,” Mathis said of the press. “If we play like that every time, we’re a tough team to beat. That’s the way we want to play. we want to speed teams up.”
Of course, when Mathis is raining 3s like he did on Saturday, UNM is also pretty good. He was 6-of-9 from beyond the arc in the first half and finished 7-of-14 from 3-point range, with two free throws, four rebounds and five assists in a team-high 29 minutes.
Corey Manigault, after being held to four minutes and no points in last weeks win over UTEP due to discipline from Weir, had a double-double with 18 points,11 rebounds and two steals.
Dane Kuiper scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half, making Bradley pay for its increased emphasis on slowing Mathis.
Weir said the opening of the game and its finish weren’t ideal, but, “fortunately, that 20-25 minutes in the middle, we were really able to establish our style of play.”
Bradley got a team-best 20 points from 5-10 guard Darrell Brown, but after hitting his first three 3-pointers, he finished shooting 4-of-12. The Braves had 15 turnovers and were outrebounded by UNM 40-33.
NEW MEXICO (4-1)
Arroyo 0-0 0-0 0, Drinnon 0-1 0-0 0, Percy 1-2 0-0 3, Maluach 2-8 2-2 7, Kuiper 6-10 1-1 15, Ezzeddine 2-5 2-2 6, Manigault 4-9 10-11 18, Pinchuk 2-3 1-2 5, Mathis 7-14 2-2 23, McGee 2-5 0-0 5, Jackson 0-3 3-4 3. Totals 26-60 21-24 85.
Childs 4-8 5-6 13, Bar 4-8 0-0 8, Brown 7-15 3-9 20, Lautier-Ogunleye 2-6 3-5 7, Kennell 5-9 3-4 16, van Bree 1-6 0-1 3, Pittman 2-6 0-0 4, Brummett 0-0 0-0 0, Hodgson 0-0 4-4 4. Totals 25-58 18-29 75.
Halftime?New Mexico 41-32. 3-Point Goals?New Mexico 12-32 (Mathis 7-14, Kuiper 2-5, Percy 1-2, Maluach 1-4, McGee 1-4, Ezzeddine 0-1, Jackson 0-1, Drinnon 0-1), Bradley 7-20 (Brown 3-6, Kennell 3-7, van Bree 1-5, Pittman 0-1, Lautier-Ogunleye 0-1). Fouled Out?None. Rebounds?New Mexico 38 (Manigault 11), Bradley 32 (Bar 12). Assists?New Mexico 15 (Mathis 5), Bradley 11 (Brown 4). Total Fouls?New Mexico 24, Bradley 21. A?5,494 (11,433).