The University of New Mexico Lobos kicked off Mountain West Conference play with a lopsided 87-58 win over the Air Force Falcons at DreamStyle Arena on Wednesday Night. It was the sixth year in a row in which the Lobos started with a win in conference play and the 10th consecutive win over the Falcons at the Pit.
Senior Joe Furstinger continued his hot streak with a third consecutive double-double on 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Jachai Simmons posted a career-high 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting for the floor to lead the Lobos in scoring.
The Lobos used a balanced attack with six different players scoring in double figures, including all five players who entered the game off of head coach Paul Weir’s bench. Weir’s up-tempo press defense forced 17 turnovers by the Falcons while limiting Air Force to a just 38% shooting from the floor and 19% from behind the arc.
Sophomore forward Lavelle Scottie led the Falcons with 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting from the floor, while Frank Toohey and Keaton Van Soelen each posted six rebounds to lead the team. But UNM’s frenetic defense kept the Falcons from playing a half-court offense that they desired as the Lobos forced them to play their style of offense.
“We got them playing the kind of game we wanted them to play,” Weir said after the game. “They were running up and down and trying to execute fast breaks and things like that.”
The two teams started the game off close, exchanging baskets fort he first nine minutes of play before the Lobos went on an 8-0 run to extend to a 22-9 lead with 8:38 left in the first half on Simmon’s dunk.
UNM would head into the break with a 36-20 lead and would eventually outscore the Falcons 51-38 in the second period to complete the blowout win.
The Lobos move to 6-8 on the season and 1-0 in conference play, while the Falcons fall to 6-7 overall and 0-1 in MWC play. The Lobos face a tough challenge on Saturday night as they head to Reno to take on preseason MWC favorite Nevada at Lawlor Events Center. The Wolf Pack are 12-3 on the year and enter Saturday’s matchup on a high note after beating the Fresno State Bulldogs 80-65 in Fresno.