Another Mountain West big shot wiggled free in Clune Arena.
Air Force hung with Boise State until the final minute in a 70-64 loss on Saturday night in a script eerily similar to what the home crowd witnessed against Nevada and UNLV earlier this season.
This time it was Boise State vaulting ahead after the sixth and final tie at 59-59. After that point, Air Force turned it over once and hit just 2 of 6 shots.
Against a team now tied for the conference lead, that’s not going to cut it in crunch time.
“What hurts is that we played really well against a really, really good team that’s an NCAA Tournament team and we just came up a little bit short here at the end,” coach Dave Pilipovich said. “It’s got to be a positive growth for us.
“We’re growing. You see guys getting better and I think you see the team getting better.”
Once again, Air Force (8-12, 2-6 Mountain West) put itself in position for a signature home win.
The Falcons led for more than 12 minutes in the first half and neutralized NBA prospect Chandler Hutchison early. The probable Mountain West Player of the Year had five points and five turnovers at halftime, though he eventually found his rhythm and scored 16 points with five assists.
Lexus Williams also had 16 points for the Broncos (18-4, 8-2).
Ryan Swan had another strong performance for the Falcons with 19 points and five rebounds. C.J. Siples had an out-of-nowhere 16-point, three-steal game off the bench.
The Falcons made 20-of-23 free throws, shot 50 percent in the second half and allowed just one Boise State offensive rebound in the second half.
But the sum of those parts wasn’t what they sought. Again.
The Falcons haven’t defeated a Division I opponent at Clune Arena since Nov. 20 and are now 0-3 at home in conference games.
Making matters worse for a frustrated team, they must wait a week before their next game as they must wait through their second bye in the Mountain West schedule a little more than a week after having a game postponed because of the government shutdown.
“I wish we could play again tomorrow,” Pilipovich said.
It’s a team that’s frustrated not because it hasn’t been able to compete, but simply because it hasn’t been able to finish.
There are 10 games remaining, including six in this building, for the team to change those fortunes.