Nov. 10, 2012
Michael Lyons led four Air Force players in double figures with a game-high 19 points, including a career-high 12 from the free throw line, as the Falcons defeated Army 76-65 Saturday in the first round of the season-opening All-Military Classic in Charleston, S.C. The Falcons rallied from a 15-point deficit early in the second half and closed the game with a 27-7 run over the last 11:25.
Lyons sparked the Air Force comeback with nine points, including the final six, in a 12-6 run that closed a 50-37 Army lead to 56-49 with 11:40 remaining. Army's Kevin Ferguson responded with a bucket at the 11:25 mark, but the Falcons then reeled off 10 straight points, including five by Mike Fitzgerald and four by Todd Fletcher, to take a 59-58 lead with 7:12 left.
It was back and forth for the next three minutes until Ella Ellis sank a three-pointer for the Black Knights at the 3:46 mark giving Army a 65-63 lead. Those were the final points for Army as the Falcons scored the last 13 points of the contest, including six from center Taylor Broekhuis, who finished with 14 points.
"All five of our seniors really stepped up when we needed them to today," said Air Force head coach Dave Pilipovich. "They got us through when we struggled and excelled the last 10 minutes of the game."
Fletcher went 7-for-10 from the field and scored 16 points for Air Force. He also collected a career-high six steals, while Kyle Green added 11 points and DeLovell Earls dished out a team-high three assists. Broekhuis and Fitzgerald led the Falcons with six rebounds apiece. Air Force shot 50 percent (25-of-50) from the field and 77 percent (20-of-26) from the free-throw line, including an impressive 82.6 percent (19-of-23) in the second half.
The Falcons jumped out to an early 12-5 lead in the first five minutes of the game, but Army outscored Air Force 32-18 the rest of the half to take a 37-30 lead at halftime. The Black Knights threatened to runaway with the game with a 10-2 run after the break to grab their largest lead at 47-32 just three minutes into the second stanza.
"We got off to our great start because of our defense, but then we went through a lull on that end of the court," said Pilipovich. "They (Army) were very effective on offense late in the first half. We wanted to get a good start in the second half, but they tested us and we could have gone either way after they took a 15-point lead. We went the right way by getting stops and going to the basket for some east scores."
Air Force will look to defend its All-Military Classic title against either VMI or Citadel in the championship game on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 4 p.m. (ET).