Jan. 22, 2011
AIR FORCE ACADEMY , Colo. (AP) - Air Force's status as Mountain West Conference doormat could very well be a thing of the past.
Michael Lyons scored all of his game-high 17 points in the first half as Air Force snapped a three-game losing skid with a 72-51 win over Wyoming Saturday.
The Falcons (11-7, 2-3 Mountain West) shot 57.9 percent (11 of 19) from 3-point range and had four players reach double figures. Air Force has now won three of its last four against Wyoming (8-11, 1-4), including a 59-40 victory in the first round of the 2010 Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas.
"We shot the ball very well," Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said. "Their zone is really big and is different from any zone you play. You can't run your normal stuff, and yet, our guys adapted very well. I thought the way we were able to stretch it out was that we made some shots."
Wyoming cut Air Force's lead to nine points, 53-44, with 6:34 remaining, but the Falcons closed the door with an 11-2 run during the next three minutes. Air Force improved to 9-2 at Clune Arena this season, while the Cowboys fell to 0-6 on the road.
"I think our kids played pretty hard," Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer said. "Air Force is a good team, and when they make threes in this building, they're tough to play. We need to try to find a way to make some baskets. When you don't make baskets, it's hard to hold your intensity."
Air Force shot 56.5 percent from the field, out-shooting its opponent for the sixth consecutive game (3-3 record). The 21-point victory margin was the Falcons' largest against a conference foe since they defeated TCU 57-36 on March 5, 2008.
Tom Fow scored 14 points for the Falcons, and Todd Fletcher had 13 points and five steals and Evan Washington added 11 points and nine assists. Air Force tallied 22 assists in the game and scored 16 points off Wyoming turnovers.
"It felt great, especially because last year this didn't happen," said Fletcher, who hit three 3-pointers. "We're making progress. I've been struggling to score this year and really haven't been a threat, but the whole time I knew I could (score) if I wanted. My shot really hasn't been feeling right all year, but I worked on it this week and feel comfortable now."
The Falcons have now won more regular-season conference games this year then they did the past two seasons combined (1-31).
"I feel that we're a whole lot better than last year," Lyons said. "We've got experience, and our confidence is way higher than it was last year. We feel like we can hang with anybody and beat anybody."
Amath M'Baye led the Cowboys with 13 points, and Francisco Cruz added 10. Wyoming struggled from beyond the arc, hitting just 4 of 23 attempts.
Air Force used a 9-0 run midway through the first half to turn a six-point lead into a double-digit advantage and took a 38-25 lead into the locker room. The Falcons shot 56.5 percent from the field in the first half and held the Cowboys to 37.9-percent shooting.
It was Air Force's largest halftime lead over a conference opponent since it took a 46-18 lead into the break against Wyoming on Feb. 3, 2007.