San Diego State vs Air Force

Air Force beats No. 13 San Diego State for rare win over ranked team


AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Air Force athletic director Hans Meuh fired coach Jeff Reynolds so he could restore some fun to the program.

The Falcons were all smiles Saturday.

"Everybody's on a high right now," said Michael Lyons, whose 27 points and four steals led Air Force to a 58-56 upset of No. 13 San Diego State, the Falcons' first win over a ranked team in 20 years.

"This gives us a lot of confidence," Lyons said. "We know we can play with everybody. We now know we can not only play with them, we can beat them."

The Aztecs (20-6, 6-4 Mountain West) had a chance to steal the win but Xavier Thames' off-balance 3-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer, sending short-handed San Diego State to its third straight loss.

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"It would be a great day to retire," cracked interim Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich, who might actually have secured his future with the Falcons (13-11, 3-7).

Meuh has said this is sort of a trial run for Pilipovich, who will be considered for the permanent gig after the season.

"After today, I think it's a giant step for him," Lyons said. "Coach P. is a great guy, we'd like to keep him around. This goes a long way for him."

The Falcons improved to 2-1 under Pilipovich, 1-64 against top-20 teams and 2-74 against ranked opponents. The only other time they beat a ranked team was Feb. 15, 1992, against No. 22 UTEP.

"It's something that hasn't happened in a long time at Air Force. It's something that should be celebrated," said center Taylor Broekhuis, who played with a mask to protect his nose, which was broken in practice 48 hours earlier.

"Before the game, Coach P. had the score from the game in 1992 when they beat UTEP and he said that today was the day that we make history."


"Before the game, we talked about that there's been only one other Air Force team that's beaten a ranked team. That was in `92, almost to the day. We put that up on the board before the game and said, 'Why not us?"' Pilipovich said.

The Aztecs fell two games behind conference leader New Mexico, which beat No. 11 UNLV 65-45 earlier Saturday. This is their first three-game skid since Feb. 9-16, 2008, a span of 143 games.

The Aztecs got 17 points from Chase Tapley and 13 points and 11 rebounds from Tim Shelton, but they sorely missed Jamaal Franklin, their leading scorer (16.0) and rebounder (7.4), who sprained his left ankle in the closing minutes of a loss to New Mexico on Wednesday night and sat out Saturday.

The Aztecs lost another starter when 6-foot-11 forward Garrett Green turned his right ankle eight minutes into the second half. He took a seat after scoring five points and pulling down 10 rebounds.

"It would help to have those guys," Thames said, "but we can't make excuses."

"We had all sorts of looks," San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. "You've got to be able to find a way to make them. You've got to make a few more than we made -- or a lot more than we made."

During one stretch in the second half, the Aztecs missed 13 straight shots and went 11½ minutes without a field goal, allowing the Falcons to hang around for a shot at the upset.

Behind Lyons, who hit two 3-pointers and make a crucial steal during a 10-0 run, the Falcons built a 56-48 lead with 2½ minutes left only to watch the Aztecs whittle away.

With Air Force clinging to a one-point lead, Todd Fletcher was fouled with 8.2 seconds left. He made the first free throws but missed the second and Shelton grabbed the rebound.

Thames wanted to drive to the basket to send the game into overtime, but "I got it kind of late," he said. "I was going to drive, but there was two seconds on the clock, so I just had to force up a shot."

It wasn't even close, just like so many other attempts by the Aztecs, who shot 29 percent in the second half.

"It's hard to win anywhere, especially hard to win on the road," Fisher said. "And it's especially hard when you shoot it as poorly as we did."

Franklin tested his ankle during warm-ups but didn't even try to talk his way into the lineup. Fisher said he had no update on Green but hoped to have him back against Wyoming on Wednesday night.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Aztecs coach Steve Fisher and guard James Rahon are dejected after losing their third straight game. (AP)
Aztecs coach Steve Fisher and guard James Rahon are dejected after losing their third straight game. (AP)
San Diego State #13 (20-6)292756
Air Force (13-11) «292958
SDGST:C. Tapley 17 Pts
SDGST:T. Shelton 11 Reb
SDGST:X. Thames 5 Ast
AF:M. Lyons 27 Pts
AF:M. Fitzgerald 7 Reb
AF:K. Williams 3 Ast

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San Diego StateAir Force
Chase Tapley
Michael Lyons
San Diego State Aztecs
C. Tapley, G376-122-391217
X. Thames, G362-75-63549
J. Rahon, G341-80-04042
T. Shelton, F315-103-8112313
G. Green, F182-51-210125
A. Williams, F151-32-22034
L. Franklin, G150-34-43114
D. Stephens, F121-40-04012
N. Ebrahimian, G20-00-01010
J. Franklin, GDid Not Play
J. Castleberry, GDid Not Play
A. Douglas, GDid Not Play
R. Staten, GDid Not Play
Totals 18-5217-2547102156
Air Force Falcons
M. Lyons, G389-193-420127
T. Fletcher, G341-53-43226
M. Fitzgerald, G-F303-71-17247
T. Broekhuis, C251-30-04023
K. Williams, F140-32-21312
M. Yon, G202-46-712010
K. Green, G120-40-03130
C. Barnhill, F110-12-21012
J. Hammonds, G-F60-01-21011
S. Hempsey, G50-00-01000
A. Brakeville, F20-00-00000
C. Kammerer, F10-00-00000
C. Carter, G10-00-00000
D. Earls, G10-00-00010
M. Olesinski, F10-00-00000
T. Stewart, G-FDid Not Play
S. Stucky, GDid Not Play
J. Bailey, GDid Not Play
S. Adler, GDid Not Play
B. Davidson, FDid Not Play
D. Grieves, FDid Not Play
R. Rojas-Reyes, GDid Not Play
Totals 16-4618-2224101658
Mountain West
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
San Diego St0-05-177
Boise St.0-04-1133
Air Force0-03-1270
Fresno St.0-03-2159
Colorado St.0-03-3235
Utah St.0-03-3192
New Mexico0-02-3236
San Jose St.0-02-3311
Other games
Louisville 90 Final
DEP 82
MU 79 Final
UConn 64
Wich St 91 Final
UNLV 45 Final
N Mexico 65
Florida St 76 Final
MD 44 Final
Virginia 71
K-State 57 Final
Baylor 56
Missouri 71 Final
Tx A&M 62
Ole Miss 62 Final
Kentucky 77
CLEM 52 Final
NC 74
Florida 98 Final
Arkansas 68
STMA 51 Final
GTOWN 63 Final
GONZ 65 Final
San Fran 66
TXTCH 50 Final
Kansas 83
Ohio St 51 Final
Michigan 56
ND 74 Final