Dec. 7, 2011
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Jeff Reynolds didn't need to look at final statistics to assess his team's defensive performance Wednesday night.
The Air Force coach got enough from live play to know how well his defense played in a 55-34 victory over Wright State.
"Yes. Yes," said Reynolds when asked if this was the best defensive effort of his team to date.
The Falcons went almost exclusively to their man-to-man defense to hold the Raiders down. Air Force allowed the fewest points in a game since Colorado College scored just 31 on Dec. 9, 2006.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time it was man," Reynolds said. "As long as we can play it and not get in trouble we will play it."
Michael Lyons scored 15 points and Air Force (4-2) put cold-shooting Wright State away in the first half.
"Every night we try to be more of a defensive team," Lyons said. "We set a goal of five or less uncontested shots and I think we got that tonight."
The added aggressiveness forced seven or eight air balls, plus 17 turnovers that the Falcons turned into 18 points.
Wright State (3-6) shot a season-low 20 percent from the field.
Air Force's defense smothered the Raiders in the first half, limiting them to 19 percent shooting in building a 27-13 lead at the break. Wright State missed nine straight shots in one stretch.
Fitzgerald had no trouble finding the range, hitting three 3-pointers to help the Falcons build a 21-4 early lead. Lyons made two 3-pointers in the last five minutes of the half for the only Air Force points, but they didn't lose much of their advantage.
In the second half, the Falcons were more deliberate on offense, but their defense was just as effective. Wright State turned the ball over four times and missed all four shots on its initial eight possessions. Lyons hit a 3-pointer and Taylor Stewart's finger roll put Air Force ahead 33-13 before Darling made Wright State's first basket of the half with 15:51 left.
Two free throws by Mays got the game to 36-20 with 13:42 remaining when Air Force began pulling its starters.