The University of New Mexico lost a game it controlled until the final minute. Then the Lobos lost their poise that cost them more than a victory.
The heartbreaking 73-71 loss to the visiting Boise State Broncos on Tuesday night was further marred by a postgame shoving match involving UNM forward Joe Furstinger, who shoved Boise State’s Marcus Dickinson in the chest in an attempt to foul at the buzzer after a missed layup by Lobos guard Anthony Mathis. Boise State’s Justinian Jessup retaliated by shoving Furstinger, and players from both teams started shoving and barking at each other for a few minutes before the refs, coaches and security were able to separate the two teams.
The Mountain West Conference on Wednesday announced their decision after investigating the incident, suspending Furstinger one game and giving a written reprimand to Jessup. Furstinger will serve his suspension on Saturday against host Air Force at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.
It’s also possible UNM head coach Paul Weir could impose his own discipline on Furstinger beyond the one game as he hinted at in his postgame radio interview following Tuesday’s game.
Weir called the ending of the game “an embarrassment” in his postgame remarks on air and said he was disappointed in the ugly ending and further apologized to Lobos fans, the MWC and to the Boise State coaches.
Weir said he would have to review the tape of the incident before deciding what actions he would take.
Also, the league announced in a written statement posted on their website on Wednesday:
-- The student-athletes and support personnel from both institutions have been admonished with regard to their leaving the bench area to participate in the altercation. This action could have resulted in a much more serious incident.
-- The Mountain West would like to recognize the cooperative and professional manner in which both institutions addressed this incident. It also appreciates the comments made by New Mexico head coach Paul Weir during his postgame press conference.
FALLING TO FOURTH
With the loss, the Lobos dropped to 12-13 overall and 7-5 in the Mountain West, slipping from third into a fourth-place tie with Fresno State entering Wednesday’s play; Boise State improved to 20-4 and 10-2 in league play to stay in second and on the heels of league-leading Nevada (20-4, 9-1). Wyoming jumped to third at 6-4 in league play.
Weir also said he was disappointed in the execution of the team late in the second half, comparing the collapse, the Lobos led by as many as 13 points, to a non-conference setback to Tennessee Tech.
The Lobos led with 53 seconds on the clock, 71-68, but after BSU standout Chandler Hutchison stole the ball from junior Troy Simons and followed it with a dunk, the Lobos found themselves up by just one, 71-70, with just 22 seconds left. A defeated-looking Lobo squad then took a timeout, committed a turnover, missed a 3-pointer and committed a foul, all within 11 seconds. -- Hutchison hit a layup to take the lead 72-71 with 16 seconds left, and was followed with a free throw from Jessup to clinch the win with nine seconds on the clock.
The Lobos also missed some key free throws late and couldn’t keep the Broncos off the offensive boards. UNM was out rebounded 41-26, and the Broncos scored 27 second-chance points.
SCORING SLUMP SNAPPED
The Lobos’ Dane Kuiper, who had been in an 0-for-17 skid from 3-point range over the past 3 games, got off to a good start against the Broncos. He scored 8 of UNM’s first 10 points and finished the game with 11 points on 2-of-4 shooting behind the arc.
GOOD GAME, BAD ENDING
Mathis led the Lobos with 17 points on 4-of-6 shooting on 3s. He has scored in double figures in 12 straight games. But he also turned the ball over in the waning moments with the Lobos clinging to a 71-70 lead. To make the ending worse for Mathis, he didn’t get the foul call on his layup attempt at the horn despite being knocked to the floor.
UNM nailed 11 3’s against the Broncos, reaching double digits in made 3-pointers for the sixth straight and 17th time this season. The Lobos also entered the game ranked seventh nationally in 3-pointers made per game at 11. A total they matched on Tuesday.
The attendance for the UNM-Boise State tilt drew an announced crowd of 11,357 at Dreamstyle Arena The Pit. It was the fifth largest crowd of the season despite the 8 p.m. start with a significant showing in the student section. The top four home crowds this season were Arizona (13,207), New Mexico State (12,768), Colorado State (12,438) and San Diego State (11,418). The Lobos are 2-3 in those five games.