Trevor Lyons scored 15 points to lead Air Force past San Diego State, 60-57, Tuesday night in a Mountain West Conference game in Clune Arena. The victory snaps a three-game losing streak for the Falcons and stops a three-game winning streak for San Diego State.
Air Force hit just three of six free throws in the final 38 seconds, but held the Aztecs scoreless the final 51 seconds and without a field goal in the final 2:36. Jacob Van hit two free throws with 38 seconds left to give Air Force the lead for good, 59-57. Lyons added one of two free throws with 22 seconds remaining to make up the final margin. Air Force forced a heavily contested 3-pointer that missed everything and went out of bounds with .7 seconds left. The Falcons threw the inbounds pass past half court and touched it to end the game.
Air Force won for the first time this season when trailing at the half, improving to 1-7. The Falcons trailed 34-24 at the break and trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half. The Falcons opened the second half with an 8-2 run to cut the lead to four, 36-32, with 17:43 to play. The Aztecs held Air Force off until a free throw by Frank Toohey tied the game at 53-all with 5:16 to play. The game was tied twice after that, but the Falcons never trailed again.
Air Force shot just 38.5 percent from the field for the game, but hit 44.4 percent in the second half. The Falcons out-rebounded San Diego State, 38-37, to mark the fourth time in five games Air Force has out-rebounded an opponent.
The Falcons held San Diego State to just 37.5 percent shooting, including an 8-for-29 effort from 3-point territory. Air Force held the Aztecs to 1-10 in the second half from three. Air Force also forced 14 San Diego State turnovers and out-scored the Aztecs, 25-14, in bench points.
Toohey added nine points and grabbed a team-best seven rebounds for Air Force. Zach Kocur added eight points and a team-best four assists while Dane Norman chipped in with eight points and three rebounds. He hit both 3-pointers and free throws he took.
San Diego State was led by Trey Kell, who scored 14 points. Max Hoetzel added 11 points and eight rebounds, but was held to just two points in the second half.
“Our bench was really good. Dane Norman, who is from San Diego, had a big game. His dad flew in for the game to surprise him and he responded. He hit two big threes for us. Our scout team was really good in practice yesterday and it carried over today,” Air Force head coach Dave Pilipovich said.
“We talked to our guys before the end of the half and said we wanted to get it to single digits and we got it to 10. We came out in the second half with a lot of energy and just kept working. I love this group. Don’t count this group out. They are working hard. It was a fun game,” Pilipovich said.
Air Force improves to 10-11 overall and 3-5 in the conference. San Diego State falls to 11-8 and 3-4. Air Force is idle this weekend before returning to action at Fresno State Wednesday, Feb. 1.