Boise State Ruins Pilipovich's Debut, 72-61
Feb. 11, 2012
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) - Dave Pilipovich's debut as Air Force's interim coach turned into a memorable night for Boise State and Broncos coach Leon Rice instead.
Joe Hanstad's 19 points and Anthony Drmic's double-double led Boise State past Air Force 72-61 on Saturday night for the Broncos' first win in the Mountain West Conference.
Drmic had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Broncos (11-12), who finally won a game in their new league after seven straight losses.
"I am so proud of our guys. This is a tremendous league and we're a really young team," Rice said. "To get a win on the road is something that I am really proud of. We've been working hard and it was great to see that work pay off tonight."
Air Force athletic director Hans Meuh fired Jeff Reynolds on Wednesday and elevated Pilipovich, his top assistant since 2007, saying the program needed an infusion of enthusiasm. Meuh said Reynolds was overbearing and he wanted the Falcons to enjoy the game once again.
They didn't have much fun watching the Broncos outshoot them from the floor and the free-throw line in turning a tight game at halftime into a runaway.
The Falcons came out with plenty of passion but they quickly became fatigued, sapped perhaps by the emotional ups and downs of the last few days, Pilipovich said.
"I just think there were so many things going through their mind. They were so excited to get started we just wore down. We wore down sooner than we anticipated," Pilipovich said.
"We talked about playing faster, but not quicker. What we meant by that was that we wanted to push the ball up the floor and get the defense on its heels early and run our offense. With all the excitement in the game we rushed and took some quick shots. We'll work hard and correct those things."
Michael Lyons led Air Force with 24 points and Todd Fletcher dished out a career-best nine assists, but the Falcons (11-11, 1-7) lost their seventh straight game since beating Boise State on the road Jan. 14.
The Falcons trailed 27-24 at halftime but never made a game of it after the Broncos started the second half with an 11-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Hanstad that made it 38-24.
Kyle Green's layup with 15:06 remaining finally got the Falcons on the board again, but Boise State increased its lead to 50-31 with eight minutes left.
Air Force made one final run but couldn't trim the deficit below double digits.
"We're 0-1 now," Falcons junior foward Mike Fitzgerald said. "We're not thinking about all the other losses we've had. It's a new season. We wanted to come out with a win, but it didn't happen. We're still going to stay positive and keep playing hard."
The Falcons hit 40 percent of their shots but were just 28 percent from behind the arc and missed seven of 20 free throws.
"We just couldn't hit shots and I think that led to us not having confidence on defense," Lyons said.
The final few weeks of the season are basically an audition for Pilipovich, whom Reynolds brought in five years ago as his chief assistant. Reynolds went 63-82 at Air Force, and his last home game was an 81-42 defeat by New Mexico, the most lopsided loss for the Falcons in Clune Arena history.
The players welcomed the change and had hoped to celebrate with a win.
"I thought we'd come out here and play better," Lyons said. "We had three straight good days of practice. It's frustrating when you have games like this when we can't play well after three good days of practice. I don't know what's going on right now, but I know we can fix it.
"Nobody expects us to win right now, so we have no pressure on us right now. We just need to put all the outside stuff out of our heads."