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Air Force basketball buried by New Mexico in The Pit

December 27, 2017 Updated: December 27, 2017 at 9:50 pm
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photo - Air Force head coach Dave Pilipovich watches his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Colorado State in the Mountain West Conference tournament Thursday, March 9, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Air Force head coach Dave Pilipovich watches his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Colorado State in the Mountain West Conference tournament Thursday, March 9, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) 

Air Force’s woes followed it into Mountain West play.

In a conference opener that wasn’t close after the opening minutes, New Mexico blew by the Falcons 87-58 to extend the visitor’s road losing streak in league play to 23 games.

It was one of many dubious streaks that continued for Air Force (6-7, 0-1 Mountain West).

The team hasn’t broken 60 points in four straight games against Division I opponents, and it shot 38 percent as it failed to hit 40 percent for the third consecutive game and sixth time in 11 games against D-1 teams.

The problems are many – the Falcons turned it over 17 times, had just seven assists and were outscored 33-19 in fast-break points – but as it has much of this season, it boiled down to shooting.

The Falcons made just 3-of-16 3-point attempts and were outscored 42-9 from long distance.

“We’re getting open looks,” said Lavelle Scottie, who scored 12 points as the only Falcon in double figures, in a postgame conversation with play-by-play announcer Jim Arthur on 740 AM. “We’ve just got to knock them down.”

New Mexico gained separation early with a 12-0 run as the Falcons went 4 minutes, 28 seconds without scoring, then pulled away by making 10-of-16 3s in the second half.

Jachai Simmons led six Lobos in double figures with 15 points.

The Pit has always been a tough place for Air Force to play, as it has now dropped 10 straight in the venue. But this was a New Mexico (6-8) squad that had largely struggled this season and yet it led the Falcons by as many as 31 points.

Coach Dave Pilipovich pointed to quality performances from some of the young players. Sophomore center Jonathan DeWane scored eight points in just seven minutes and freshman Keaton Van Soelen scored five points with six rebounds in 18 minutes.

But the starting five outside of Scottie produced just 10 points as Sid Tomes, Trevor Lyons, Ryan Manning and Frank Toohey were a combined 2-for-15 from the field.

It gets no easier, as Air Force travels to Fresno State (10-4) on Saturday.

“17 more (Mountain West games),” Pilipovich said. “We’ve got to get on our horse and get after it.”

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