Free Throws Propel Falcons Past Frogs, 70-65
March 2, 2011
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) - In the end, Air Force's younger players wouldn't let their three senior teammates leave Clune Arena for the last time with a loss.
Sophomore Michael Lyons broke a 65-65 tie with two free throws with 38.5 seconds remaining to propel the Falcons (15-13, 6-9 Mountain West) to a 70-65 come-from-behind victory over Texas Christian Wednesday night. Lyons, who left the game briefly in the second half after a hard fall, finished with a team-high 20 points to send TCU (10-21, 1-15) to its 13th consecutive defeat.
Sophomore Adam Brakeville added two free throws - the first two of his career - with 16 seconds left, and junior Taylor Stewart chipped in another with eight seconds remaining to seal the victory for seniors Evan Washington, Tom Fow and Derek Brooks.
"When they made that run, I knew we had to get a stop," Lyons said. "I was thinking in my head that I wanted DB (Brooks), E (Washington) and Tom (Fow) to go out the right way. That was my motivation."
After trailing 34-27 at the break, Air Force opened the second half with a 16-3 run, taking a 39-37 lead on a Brooks layup with 13:30 remaining. TCU's lead evaporated after the Horned Frogs hit just one of their first 10 shots and went 5:47 without a basket early in the second half.
The Horned Frogs hit four 3-pointers to battle back and tie the game at 52-52 at the 7:47 mark, but Air Force responded with a 13-3 run to build a 10-point lead with 3:30 remaining. TCU would not go away, tying the game at 65-65 with 1:03 remaining on a Hank Thorns layup.
The Falcons then scored the next five points from the free throw line to seal the win.
"The first half was probably my fault," Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said. "We practiced yesterday and came out a little flat. I told them at halftime I'd made a mistake and said, `You've got to go out, give me energy and win the game.' They did."
Lyons left the game with 6:23 remaining after falling hard to the floor after being fouled by Amric Fields. He returned to score five points.
Reynolds praised his three senior leaders for their perseverance and dedication to the Air Force team.
"They have left a little bit of a legacy, and that's something to be proud of and look back on," Reynolds said. "I recruited all of them as an assistant personally, so those three guys mean a tremendous amount to me. They mean a tremendous amount to the program."
The victory was a fitting conclusion to the Falcons' home season for the trio of seniors.
"It's really special for us seniors to get a win on senior night, that's for sure," Fow said. "The younger guys did their jobs to the best of their abilities and helped us get a win."
The Horned Frogs hit 14 of their 29 3-point attempts, but it wasn't enough. Greg Hill led TCU with a game-high 23 points, and Thorns finished with a double-double after scoring 12 points and dishing out 11 assists.
Air Force was red hot in the second half, hitting 66.7 percent of their shots, and scored 20 points off 14 TCU turnovers. The Falcons also won the battle in the paint, outscoring the Horned Frogs 22-14, and had 20 assists on their 24 baskets.
The Horned Frogs used seven first-half 3-pointers and a 22-12 rebounding edge to take the seven-point halftime lead. Air Force struggled from the field, connecting on just 37 percent of its shots, and could have trailed by more if not for seven TCU turnovers that led to 12 Falcons points.