Rebounding, Points in the Paint Propel New Mexico to Victory Over Rice
Lobos pounded the glass en route to victory
Maluach quietly led the Lobos in points and rebounds
Makuach Maluach finished with a game-high 23 points and 12 rebounds and New Mexico successfully secured its first win of the 2020-2021 season despite Rice sinking 13 of its 35 three point attempts.
The Owls were led by sophomore Quincy Olivari who finished with 21 points, most of which came as part of his six-of-ten three point shooting performance.
In the first look at this year’s previously enigmatic and mostly revamped version of New Mexico, rebounding and points in the paint were the main affecting factors for a team that has struggled to bang the boards in the last several years. Six lobos grabbed five rebounds or more, with the team’s effort amounting to a net advantage of 19 rebounds in the game.
After losing more than 75% of their offensive production from just a year ago, it wasn’t clear how New Mexico’s offense would operate this season, especially as one of the few teams in the country that had yet to play a game including some of the fewest number of practices.
The offense wasn’t always clean but, limited sample size withstanding, the goal was clear in this one: get the ball to the paint – especially when the threes weren’t falling. New Mexico generated 40 points in the paint to Rice’s 12, essentially offsetting the 39 points Rice derived from long range.
It was a back and forth affair through the first half, with Rice draining 6 of 13 threes (46%) by the time the buzzer sounded. The game was knotted up at 15 before New Mexico rattled on a 15-3 run which put the Lobos up 27-18.
The run was ended by Travis Evee with 2:58 remaining, but Rice would eventually face a halftime deficit of 31-25. By that time, the rebounding damage had already been done, with New Mexico already holding a 13 point advantage on the boards.
In the second half, the Owls were never able to close the gap closer than their six-point halftime deficit, falling behind by as many as 13 and New Mexico’s 11-man rotation hung on for its first victory in as many games of the ’20-’21 campaign.
New Mexico will “host” NAIA school Our Lady of the Lake at Rice’s Tudor Fieldhouse on Tuesday. A shared opponent by the New Mexico Lobos and Rice Owls, Our Lady of the Lake downed Division I Texas State at their home arena, 61-58 on Saturday evening.