Air Force Falls To Wyoming, 64-53
Jan. 18, 2012
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP)- Dominating the closing minutes of each half helped Wyoming erase a sub-par offensive attack against Air Force Wednesday night.
Wyoming forced five of Air Force's 16 turnovers in the final 5:07 to overcome a four-point deficit and outscored the Falcons 22-7 down the stretch en route to a 64-53 win at Clune Arena. The victory was the fourth in five games for the Cowboys (15-3, 1-1 Mountain West) and snapped a five-game winning streak for Air Force (11-5, 1-1).
Luke Martinez and Francisco Cruz each scored 15 points to lead Wyoming , which used an 11-0 run to spur the come-from-behind win.
"I felt good that our guys refused to lose their edge on D after a very ugly first half," Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said. "We were uglier than homemade sin on offense (in the first half), and a lot of teams, when their offense isn't going well, lose their edge on D. I thought by shutting them down and shutting them out the last four-plus minutes, when our guys came into the locker room, they looked different."
The Falcons led 46-42 with 5:46 remaining, but turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions while Wyoming went on its double-digit run to take the lead for good. The Falcons went more than four minutes without scoring before Kamryn Williams hit a free throw with 1:30 remaining.
The Cowboys scored their final 12 points from the free-throw line and were 18-for-26 from the line in the game. Air Force was just 4-of-13 from 3-point range and 9-of-18 from the free-throw line.
"We had 16 turnovers, and you're not going to beat a team as good as they are defensively if you turn it over," Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said. "We had a chance to stretch (our lead in the first half), and we missed free throws and turned the ball over. We have got to do a better job offensively."
Leonard Washington (13 points) and Adam Waddell (11) also reached double figures for the Cowboys.
"I think the game changed on our defensive end the last two minutes of the game," Martinez said. "I think it's our mentality to close out the halves as strong as possible. (Hitting free throws) is really important, and we spend 15 minutes after practice shooting free throws every day and can't leave until we hit 15 in a row."
Wyoming hit 63 percent of its shots in the second half, including four of six from 3-point range.
"We definitely had our chances to pull away, get a lead and keep it, and we didn't capitalize," Fitzgerald said. "I tip my hat to them. They have a really tough defense."
Air Force's leading scorer Michael Lyons saw his first action since suffering a high ankle sprain against Gonzaga on Dec. 22 and had nine points off the bench. It was his emphatic dunk that gave the Falcons their 46-42 lead, but he was slowed the rest of the game with the ankle.
Air Force was without the services of senior starter Taylor Stewart (8.1 ppg, 3.1 apg), who broke his left ankle at practice on Monday and is out indefinitely.
Both teams struggled to score early before Air Force used an 11-0 run to build an 18-11 advantage. The Falcons led 23-15 with 3:37 remaining, but were held without a field goal for the rest of the half and clung to a 23-22 halftime lead.