Caleb Martin scored 23 points and Kendall Stephens added 21 to lead defending conference champion Nevada past Air Force, 86-75, in Mountain West men’s basketball action Saturday afternoon in Clune Arena at the Air Force Academy.
Air Force got off to a great start against the defending conference champions and led by as many as 11 points in the first half, 32-21, with 6:45 left. The Wolf Pack stayed on the attack and closed the first half on a 20-8 run from that point to take a 41-40 halftime lead.
Nevada broke a 50-all tie with a 16-5 spurt midway through the second half to take a 66-55 lead with 8:49 remaining. The Falcons battled back to cut the lead to five points, 70-65, with 5:25 remaining behind a 10-4 run led by seniors Jacob Van and Trevor Lyons with five points each. The Wolf Pack responded with eight straight to take their biggest lead of the game, 78-65, with 2:34 remaining.
Jordan Caroline scored 17 points and added eight rebounds for Nevada while Cody Martin chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds. The Wolf Pack shot 52.7 percent from the field, including a 48.4 clip from 3-point territory. Nevada out-rebounded Air Force, 32-25, and had 16 assists on 29 made field goals.
Air Force was led by sophomore Lavelle Scottie, who scored 16 points and had four rebounds. He hit 6-10 field goals and 3-4 from three. Fellow sophomore Ryan Swan added 15 points and a team-best six rebounds. Swan also added a career-best two blocked shots and has scored in double figures in all three games he’s started this season. Van added 12 points while Lyons finished with 11 points and a season-best six assists. Freshman Keaton Van Soelen, who started his second-career game, chipped in with six points, three rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in a career-best 34 minutes.
The Falcons hit 52.7 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from three. The team entered the game hitting 37.9 percent from the field and 27.3 from three in conference play. Air Force topped the 50-percent mark for the third time this season and the 52.7 clip is the team’s third-best effort of the season and second straight at home. The Falcons had 14 assist and just 11 turnovers.
Nevada improved to 15-3 overall and remain undefeated in the Mountain West with a 4-0 mark. Air Force fell to 6-9 overall and 0-3 on conference play. The Falcons return to action Wednesday, Jan. 10, at home against UNLV. The tip is at 8 p.m. MT.