“I thought we finished it real strong and I’m happy for them,” said head coach Paul Weir. “We stepped up. We made free throws. We got stops.”
The win ended a five-game losing skid for the Lobos and added another to the Falcons deficit, which is now 10. A total of three Lobos scored in double figures with Valdir Manuel joining Maluach on 7 of 7 shooting for 14 points. Bayron Matos scored 13 points and grabbed 7 boards in the win.
Air Force was led by guard A.J. Walker who scored a game-high 26 points in defeat. The Lobos shot 59% for the game as they played it above the rim with a variety of dunks. The Lobos also won the glass pulling down 37 to only 22 for the Falcons.
The Falcons like three-point shots, but were not able to hit the mark in the game, shooting only 25% from deep. There were only two lead changes in the game which was mostly controlled by the Lobos. The Falcons briefly took a second-half lead before the Lobos stormed back and pulled away in the last five minutes of the game.
“We needed this one. Coach Davie used to coach here last year so it felt good beating his old school,” said Emmanuel Kuac. “It felt really good actually. I wanted to win the game so much I was shaking.” Kuac and the Lobos gave assistant coach Dave Pilipovich a victory at his old stomping grounds.
Pilipovich spent two seasons with the Falcons, one as head coach. With the win, the Lobos improved to 6-13 on the season and 2-13 in the Mountain West. The Falcons dropped to 4-17 overall and 2-15 in league play. Game two of the series between the Lobos and Falcons has a 4 p.m. start time Wednesday.