LAS VEGAS - Air Force will get a second shot at Colorado State after all.
By beating Wyoming 83-68, the Falcons will meet in the Mountain West Tournament quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The Falcons and Rams met just once during the regular-season, with Colorado State winning 85-58 for its 11th consecutive victory in the in-state rivalry.
“I haven’t beat them at the academy,” Falcons senior Hayden Graham said. “Everybody is going to be super excited about this game. And we’ll come out, try to do the same thing we did today and take care of business.”
Graham did not play in the first meeting, as he sat with hives.
Colorado State admitted to playing with extra emotion in the lone meeting this year, as it won at home to give coach Larry Eustachy his 400th career victory.
“He’s not going for 600 tomorrow, is he?” Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich jokingly asked. “We’re OK then.”
Free throw line success
Air Force’s top three scorers did exactly what you’d want them to do in an elimination – make their free throws. All of them.
Jacob Van (10 for 10), Hayden Graham (8 for 8) and Frank Toohey (6 for 6) paced the Falcons as they made 29-of-34 free throws. The performance at the line helped overcome 27 percent shooting in the second half, as they knocked down 19-of-22 free throws over the final 20 minutes.
“That wins games for you,” Graham said.
Van’s Vegas ride continues
In the past three games in at the Thomas & Mack Center, Air Force junior Jacob Van has scored 37 points, 17 points and 18 points.
This was the first time, however, he helped the Falcons to a victory.
“I’ll take a win anytime,” he said. “It feels good to get a win. It feels good to get that confidence and really know we have the momentum now.”
Air Force’s game-opening 25-0 run
2-0, 19:18 Jumper, Lavelle Scottie
4-0, 18:41 Layup, Frank Toohey
7-0, 18:02 3-pointer, Toohey
9-0, 15:48 Jumper, Jacob Van
12-0, 15:15 3-pointer, Scottie
14-0, 14:10 Jumper, Hayden Graham
16-0, 13:54 Jumper, Van
17-0, 13:15 Free throw, Ryan Manning
20-0, 12:53 3-pointer, Graham
23-0, 12:23 3-pointer, Scottie
25-0, 11:43 Jumper, C.J. Siples