To end a game of H-O-R-S-E, you have to prove it by hitting the winning shot twice.
In January, Air Force finally got the victory over Colorado State that had eluded it for the past 12 meetings.
On Tuesday, the Falcons proved it with a 78-73 victory at Clune Arena.
Granted, the Rams are a program in disarray. Their coach is on hiatus while under investigation, they’ve lost seven in a row and a team built on energy looked lethargic for long stretches.
Air Force doesn’t care about any of that.
“It means a lot, to be honest,” said Trevor Lyons, a senior who not only suffered through three winless years against Colorado State but also watched his brother, Michael, come on the losing side of this rivalry even after scoring 45 points in a game during the long streak.
“That’s another thing I can slap my brother with, say, ‘We beat CSU twice, how about that, in the same year.’”
Lyons had 10 points and 10 assists for his first double-double, and was just three rebounds shy of a triple-double. He did the glue work while the sophomore class provided the firepower. Ryan Swan and Sid Tomes each scored 18 points and Lavelle Scottie added 17.
Tomes hit 6-of-10 3s as the Falcons (9-13, 3-7 Mountain West), who have struggled to hit shots much of the season, went 12 of 26 from long range and made 45.6 percent overall.
“I knew I had to hit some shots for us and tonight I did that,” he said.
The Falcons closed the first half on a 10-0 run to lead 37-27, then expanded the advantage to 17 points before Colorado State made things interesting in the final minutes.
Che Bob and Nico Carvacho scored 16 points apiece to pace the Rams (10-16, 3-10), whose losing streak is their longest since 2008.
Air Force hadn’t swept a conference opponent since taking both from San Jose State in 2014-15, now it has done it against a team it hadn’t beaten since 2011 before a 76-71 victory on Jan. 17.
“I don’t know if we passed them,” Falcons coach Dave Pilipovich said. “Gosh darn, I don’t know about our team, let alone their team.”
Near the end of the game, there was a tied-up ball situation when Lyons grabbed hold of it after the whistle and wouldn’t let go as Colorado State’s Nico Carvacho did the same. It didn’t escalate into anything, but Lyons said there was a message behind the gesture.
“As the series has gone, they’ve kind of whipped our tail a little bit,” Lyons said. “That was just kind of a, ‘Hey, we’re here now.’”
The Falcons not only showed that again, they proved it.