New Mexico outruns Air Force 87-58 behind Furstinger
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Joe Furstinger dropped his third consecutive double-double and five other New Mexico players reached double figures as the Lobos beat Air Force 87-58 in their Mountain West opener Wednesday night.
Furstinger, a senior post who never had a double-double until his recent streak, finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, including six offensive boards. Jachai Simmons added a career-high 15 points for New Mexico (6-8, 1-0).
“Joe has been terrific for a week and a half, two weeks now and hopefully he’s going to be able to continue it going forward,” New Mexico coach Paul Weir said of Furstinger.
Lavelle Scottie had 12 points for the Falcons (6-7, 0-1).
In a meeting between deliberate Air Force and the go-go Lobos, speed, quickness and pace paid major dividends as the Falcons were unable to slow New Mexico down enough to make a difference.
“We never go into a half-court game,” Falcons coach Dave Pilopovich said. “It was attack and scramble for 40 minutes and 94 feet and you could never control tempo.”
The Lobos forced Air Force into 17 turnovers, turning those into 17 points. Couple that with 33 New Mexico fast-break points and the intrigue in the game quickly disappeared. The Lobos ran off a 19-6 run midway through the first half to go up 29-15 and the lead was never less than double digits the rest of the way.
“We got them playing the kind of game we wanted them to play,” Weir said. “They were running up and down and trying to execute fast breaks and things like that.”
This is the 10th straight time New Mexico has beaten the Falcons in Albuquerque and the sixth straight conference-opening win for the Lobos. This is New Mexico’s first three-game winning streak since winning four in a row in January 2017.
It was the most points Air Force had allowed this season and its 20-point halftime total was its lowest of the season, as well the least for any New Mexico opponent.
New Mexico had 21 assists against eight turnovers.
“We obviously feel good about it,” Weir said.
Furstinger is the first Lobos player to record three straight double-doubles since Tim Williams did it at the beginning of the 2015-16 season.
“We talked before the game about how this is a team that does a very good job of boxing you out,” Weir said. “But if you get some good angles, you can use your length and get your hands on it. And Joe had six offensive rebounds and every one of them was like that. He’s got long arms and big hands and he’s able to use his angles to get offensive rebounds.”
New Mexico next meets Nevada on Saturday. The Wolf Pack were the preseason conference favorites and have done little to deter that by suffering just three losses by a combined 12 points, with two of those losses coming to top-25 teams.
The Falcons go to Fresno State on Saturday. The Bulldogs, who have not left the state of California since Thanksgiving, entered conference play having won eight of nine.