Dec. 31, 2014
SAN DIEGO (AP) - Winston Shepard scored the final five points for San Diego State, which blew almost all of a 19-point, first-half lead before beating Air Force 53-49 Wednesday in a Mountain West Conference opener.
JJ O'Brien scored 10 points and Aqeel Quinn and Matt Shrigley nine each for SDSU (11-3, 1-0), the defending regular-season champion which won its eighth straight conference opener. SDSU has won four straight against Air Force.
The Aztecs led by 19 with less than two minutes to go in the first half but Air Force came on strong in the second half and pulled within two points three times.
After Hayden Graham made a layup to pull Air Force to 48-46 with 2:58 left, Shepard - who had missed 10 of his first 11 shots - made a clutch jumper from the baseline.
Air Force answered with a layup by Justin Hammonds with 1:35 left.
Each team missed a shot before Air Force's Max Yon was fouled and made the front end of a one-and-one to make it 50-49, but missed the second shot.
Shepard rebounded the miss, was fouled and made the front end of a one-and-one for a two-point lead but missed the second. Marek Olesinski rebounded and Air Force played for a final shot but Zach Kocur couldn't handle a pass from Max Yon and lost it out of bounds with four seconds left.
Shepard was fouled and hit both shots with 3.2 seconds left.
Yon scored 15 and Kamryn Williams 11 for Air Force (7-5, 0-1).
Air Force outscored SDSU 15-4 to open the second half, including a 3-pointer and two free throws by Olesinski. A three-point play by Kamryn Williams, who suffered an Achilles injury late in the game, pulled the Falcons to 37-34 with 15:07 left.
SDSU blunted that run with a layup by O'Brien and a jumper by Quinn before Kocur made a layup. Quinn hit a 3-pointer with 11:50 left to give SDSU a 44-34 lead.
The Aztecs had a 12-0 run in outscoring the Falcons 23-11 during the last 10 minutes of the first half.
The Aztecs' biggest lead was 31-12 after Shrigley's third 3-pointer of the half, with 1:57 left.
SDSU led 33-19 at halftime
Aztecs senior forward Dwayne Polee II missed his second straight game since collapsing during a game against UC Riverside on Dec. 22. The Aztecs didn't have a medical update on Polee.