The sequence at the end of the first half was the kind generally reserved for teams, like Air Force, stuck in a funk.
After forcing a shot-clock violation with 1.9 seconds remaining in the half, the Falcons had an inbounds play under New Mexico's basket. With 7-footer Alex Kirk in his face, DeLovell Earls attempted to heave the ball down the floor but overshot everyone and threw it out of bounds. Because it wasn't touched, New Mexico then had the opportunity to throw it in from the same spot. Kirk was open under the basket and converted a dunk just before the buzzer, giving New Mexico a 34-20 halftime lead.
"The environment sucked us in," coach Dave Pilipovich said. "It was a play for us to work on a late-game situation, which was great, just didn't execute the way we should have. And that's another growing experience. What an atmosphere though."
Double bigs for the Falcons
In an effort to contend with New Mexico's size, Air Force often played with multiple big men at the same time. Generally, Chase Kammerer or Darrius Parker see the floor only when Marek Olesinski is on the bench, but on Wednesday Air Force went bigger.
"We had to try to combat their size inside," Pilipovich said. "(Cameron) Bairstow is so big. He's bigger than anyone we have at the academy, right?"
The Lobos' rebounding advantage did not keep that pace after Air Force's adjustment, but New Mexico did block seven shots.
"Our effort was outstanding," Pilipovich said. "We played hard. Our two steps is one of theirs. Our trying to block out is their little touch. That's what we've got to get to. That's the elite of the conference, and we've got to work to get to their level."