Falcons Get on MWC Winning Track with 70-63 Victory over Wyoming
Jan. 30, 2010
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- The proverbial monkey is off Air Force's back.
Evan Washington scored eight of his career-high 23 points in the final 1:21 as Air Force snapped a 22-game conference losing streak with a 70-63 win over Wyoming Saturday.
The win was the first conference victory for the Falcons (9-11, 1-6 Mountain West Conference) since March 5, 2008, and also snapped a six-game losing streak. They held the Cowboys (9-12, 2-5) to 5-of-22 3-point shooting in the win and scored nine of their final 13 points from the free-throw line.
"We made free throws when we needed to today," Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said. "We didn't shoot the ball well in the first half, but in the second half, we shot it the way we do in practice. We got some shots at the rim, but their length really bothered us."
The Falcons used a 16-4 second-half run to take a 49-42 lead with 8:42 remaining, but the Cowboys responded with eight straight points to take a 50-49 lead with 5:56 left. The lead would be their last.
The Falcons hit seven of 11 shots from beyond the arc in the second half en route to the victory and took the lead for good on a Washington jumper with 5:35 remaining.
"It felt great, and I have to compare it to winning a championship by getting that monkey off our back," said Washington, who also tied his career-high with seven assists. "Last year, we let losing become part of our mentality, but I think we have a tougher team this year. I really wanted to be that guy who stepped up and made free throws."
Michael Lyons had 16 points for Air Force, and Grant Parker added 12. Freshman Todd Fletcher tied his career-best with five assists and hit two 3-pointers during the 16-4 second-half run. Desmar Jackson led Wyoming with 21 points, and Amath M'Baye had 11 and JayDee Luster and Djibril Thiam each had 10.
"It's a tough pill to swallow, but my hat's off to Jeff (Reynolds)," Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer said. "We came here and thought our game plan was pretty good, even though (Air Force) went on a roll there and knocked down a couple threes against the zone we played. I think that was the difference."
Air Force began the game with an 11-2 run after hitting its first three 3-pointers, but hit just one of its next 11 attempts from 3-point range. Wyoming capitalized with a 10-0 run midway through the first half to take the lead and held a 29-26 advantage at the break.
Wyoming played without leading scorer Afam Muojeke, who is out for the remainder of the season after rupturing the patella tendon in his left knee Jan. 20 against BYU. He was the conference's third-leading scorer with 16.8 points per game when he was injured.
The Cowboys were also without the services of 6-10 center Adam Waddell, who was out with an ankle injury suffered while scoring 13 points and grabbing 22 rebounds in a win over Utah on Jan. 27.