Lobos outlast Iona for a win during home opener

New Mexico is 2-0 after a 90-83 win over Iona on Tuesday night. Scott Forman/The Lobo Lair

Isabel Gonzalez

New Mexico head coach Paul Weir had stressed the importance of starting out the season strong. After Tuesday night’s 90-83 victory over Iona, the Lobos are enjoying a 2-0 record.
“They’re finding ways to win, which is terrific,” the coach said about the Lobos. “We weren’t doing that last year at this time of the year. It took us a long time to kind of get that confidence.”
Weir said that during a meeting, one of his assistants pointed out that the Lobos have won all three of the games they’ve played this season, counting the exhibition, but that he walked around like the team was 0-3. He admitted he’s been harder on this team than he was last year, although he doesn’t regret it.
The New Mexico offense saw five players in double digits, but it was the performances of Corey Manigault and Vance Jackson that gave the team the extra push. Manigault led the Lobos with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Jackson picked up 18 points and 12 rebounds. This performance was a big improvement for him, as the sophomore recorded seven points and eight rebounds during the season opener at CSUN. He got three three-pointers on Tuesday, with two of those happening in the first three minutes of the game.
It’s well known that Weir makes his team run a lot during practice, and on Tuesday night, the coach opened the post game press conference with a statement about the benefits of training for outlasting the competition.
“I think the new guys haven’t gone through something like this, where the last four minutes of a game we were able to hopefully allow those things to kick in,” Weir said. “It doesn’t always happen that way. Fortunately tonight, we had a little bit more legs, a little bit more juice in the last four minutes.”
Jackson commented that he could hear members from the opposite team breathing while at the free throw line.
Speaking of free throw lines, Iona outperformed New Mexico in this area. While the Lobos shot at 63.2 percent, the Gaels made 72.2 percent of their shots.
Like New Mexico, Iona also saw five players score in double digits. The team was led by junior Asante Gist with 19 points. Weir said that the Gaels, now 1-1 this season, didn’t make Tuesday’s win easy for the Lobos.
“Iona is a great basketball team and to get a win like that against them is enormous for us.” he said.
Box score.
Other notes
Drue Drinnon made his college debut, although he only recorded two minutes. The freshman point guard had been out with an ankle injury.