For about 35 minutes, this felt a lot like the Jan. 9 meeting between these Air Force and Nevada.
In that game the Falcons pulled away in the second half and won 78-65.
When Mike Fitzgerald and Tre’ Coggins hit 3-pointers to cap an 8-0 run Saturday and put Air Force up 61-51 with 5:25 remaining, Nevada coach David Carter called a timeout.
“When we were in Colorado Springs I thought it got away from us,” Carter said. “I called that timeout and I told them, ‘This time you’ve got to stay poised, don’t panic and just continue to guard and get stops.’ I thought the difference between here and there was we kept our composure defensively.”
Over the final 3½ minutes Air Force had more turnovers (three) than field goals (two).
Nevada shot 60 percent (15-of-25) in the second half after shooting 28.1 percent (9-of-32) in the first half.
The other part of the Story
Malik Story scored just three points on 1-of-15 shooting in the first three halves against Air Force in this year’s two games. He finally caught fire in the second half, scoring 16 points down the stretch for Nevada.
“He was 0-for-8 at the half and we said he’s not going to be 0-for-8 in the second half,” Falcons coach Dave Pilipovich said. “We knew he was going to look to score. We weren’t as tight on him on a couple of possessions and he was able to free himself and make some shots.”
Story had scored 51 points in two games leading into Saturday.
“I thought the first half he had some really good looks and just didn’t make them,” Carter said. “I just didn’t want him to rely on the 3-point line. It was good to see him go to the free throw line and convert some easy ones as well as making two 3s in the second half that really helped us.”
First win for the Wolf Pack
Nevada is celebrating its 100th year of basketball, but in that time had not faced Air Force until this season.
The Wolf Pack and Falcons are now 1-1 against each other.
Nevada’s coach is just over halfway through his first conference season, but he couldn’t be happier that the Wolf Pack are now part of the Mountain West.
“This is probably the best thing that’s happened to the University of Nevada is going into this conference,” said Carter, whose team won the Western Athletic Conference title last season. “You see great teams, great coaches, great competition, kids respect one and another and you see great players. We learned the first half that there are no nights off.”
DeLovell Earls, a Colorado Springs native, set a career high with nine rebounds for Air Force. Nevada outrebounded Air Force 40-27 and had a 16-2 advantage in second-chance points. … The Falcons lost for the first time after leading at halftime and are now (10-1) in such games. … Michael Lyons moved into a tie with Jarmica Reese (1994-98) for fifth place on Air Force’s all-time scoring list with 1,385 points. Lyons needs 141 points to catch Bob Beckel (1,526) in fourth place. ... Air Force's bench was 5-of-6 from 3-point range, with Kyle Green hitting all three of his attempts and Tre' Coggins hitting both of his.