LAS VEGAS – Air Force pulled off the first upset of the Mountain West Basketball Championships on Wednesday afternoon.
The 10th-seeded Falcons scored the game’s first 25 points en route to an 83-68 win over 7th-seeded Wyoming at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Air Force advances to a quarterfinal game today at 6 p.m. against No. 2 Colorado State.
The win was the first away from the Falcons’ Clune Arena, a fact not lost on guard Jacob Van.
“I think it means everything,” he said. “If we had to win one game away from Clune I’d want it to be this one because it builds momentum going into the next one. And, we have the confidence now, and we’re not looking behind us, we’re looking ahead of us.”
Van scored 18, one of four Air Force players in double figures. Hayden Graham added 15, Lavelle Scottie 13 and Frank Twohey added 11.
Air Force hit 10 of its first 16 shots to build its early lead. The Cowboys, meanwhile went 0-for-7 from the field and turned the ball over five times in that span.
Scottie had eight in the early run, Graham and Toohey added five apiece, and Van had two buckets.
“What a start,” AF coach Dave Pilipovich said. “I joked with our staff and I said I would coach the first 25 points of the game and then they could take it from there. So I think we got off to a good start.
“All joking aside. We didn’t have the last part of our season, for that being said, our season going the way we wanted it to.
“But these guys refocused and re-energized, and we had a really good session on Sunday, and Monday and Tuesday. For them to come out with that intensity and effort and enthusiasm to start the game, it’s a credit.”
Wyoming closed to 16 points a few times in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but never closed the deficit to single digits.
“We didn’t act like we had a 20-point lead starting the second half,” Van said. “We had to play our game continuing on from the first half.”
UTAH STATE 90, SJSU 64
The Aggies broke open a 31-all tie with 59 second-half points to grab an easy win in the first game of the day.
The Aggies, who averaged almost 72 points a game, set a MW record for most points in a half. The Aggies’ 26-point win was third-largest in MW history.
“I thought we started the game a little bit tight and a little bit cautious, and just kind of felt our way through it,” Utah State coach Tim Duryea said. “The second half I thought we played with a lot more force, a lot more thrust. We got out, got in transition. I thought we just made a lot of really simple, easy plays that resulted in high-quality shots. And we knocked them down.”
And, freshman Koby McEwen got hot. McEwen scored 22 of his game-high 27 points in the final 20 minutes.
McEwen credited a 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the first half for sparking his second-half onslaught.
SAN DIEGO STATE 62, UNLV 52 OT
The Rebels blew a 21-point second-half lead, falling 62-52 in overtime to the No. 6 Aztecs.
The game was tied at 50 at the end of regulation, and the Aztecs held UNLV to just one basket in the second half.
UNLV led 32-14 at the half, but was outscored 36-18 in the final 20 minutes.
Malik Pope and Trey Kell scored 13 each for SDSU, while Jovan Mooring and Christian Jones paced UNLV with 18 and 16, respectively.