Lobos dig their way out of slow offensive start to defeat Miners

New Mexico is 3-1 after defeating the UTEP Miners 84-78 on Saturday. Scott Forman/The Lobo Lair

Isabel Gonzalez

It took seven minutes and 37 seconds for New Mexico to find a way to score on Saturday. However, the Lobos were able to overcome the slow offensive start and pull an 84-78 victory over UTEP.
“I’d be lying if I said I love where we are at, but we are winning,” said UNM head coach Paul Weir. “This was a game that a year ago, quite frankly, we lost. There is growth in that regard. Hopefully we’ll continue to grow from here as the season progresses.”
Sophomore Vance Jackson’s only three-pointer of the night gave the Lobos their first points. UTEP (2-3) was already on the board but not really up by much. The 7-3 score showed how both teams were struggling in the offense.

During the first period, the Lobos only made about 23 percent of their shots by going 7-30 from the field. They didn’t hit double digits until Vladimir Pinchuk made two free throws with 7:27 remaining. By then, UTEP was leading 17-11.
At halftime, the Miners were up 34-29. UTEP was shooting at 41.4 percent from the field, which was a lot better than New Mexico. However, head coach Rodney Terry said his team’s lead was not due to the offense.
“We had the lead because we played hard on defense,” Terry said. “We did a great job in finishing possessions. It was definitely a result of what we did defensively.”
The second period looked better for the Lobos, who were now shooting at 67.9 percent. Anthony Mathis attempted his first three-pointer of the day at the 12:30 mark. He was successful, and then he made another one 20 seconds later. These back-to-back shots from beyond the arc gave the Lobos a 55-53 lead. The Miners tied the game twice, but the Lobos didn’t trail again for the rest of the game.

“We had to play desperate and with a sense or urgency,” Mathis said. “We have to remember that every possession matters and every rebound matters. Coach Weir really emphasizes that.”
The Lobos (3-1) had three players score in double figures, Mathis leading with 18 points. The senior went 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. This was the fourth straight game Mathis scored four three-pointers.
All five of the Miners’ starters ended the night in double digits. Evan Gilyard led all scorers with 22 points. He made five of the eight three-pointers for UTEP.
Box score.
The official attendance for Saturday was announced at 11, 266. Weir was grateful for the crowd, and he began the postgame press conference by mentioning the fans.
“To have our fans come out and support us the way they did today is an honor,” he said. “We have to continue to improve and get better to reward them for their loyalty to us, their loyalty to Lobo basketball.”