Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

NBA prospect neutralized, but UNLV makes late plays to slide by Air Force basketball

January 10, 2018 Updated: January 11, 2018 at 8:05 am
0
photo - Air Force Falcons forward Ryan Swan (34) puts his head in his hands following a close loss during an NCAA college basketball game between the Air Force Falcons and UNLV Rebels in Clune Arena at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. UNLV won the game 81-76. (Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette via AP)
Air Force Falcons forward Ryan Swan (34) puts his head in his hands following a close loss during an NCAA college basketball game between the Air Force Falcons and UNLV Rebels in Clune Arena at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. UNLV won the game 81-76. (Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette via AP) 

The only things left for Air Force to do is win.

Of course, in a building project, that’s always the hardest step.

“That’s the only thing left to do,” said sophomore Ryan Swan after an 81-76 loss to UNLV at Clune Arena on Wednesday that the Falcons tied several times in the closing minutes after trailing by 13 early.

“But that’s easier said than done.”

This thriller illustrated the frustrations — and positives — for a this-close team that was getting blown out by everybody a month ago and has quickly built to being within a play or two of the big dogs in the Mountain West.

The Falcons largely neutralized probable first-round pick Brandon McCoy, limiting the 7-footer to eight points and five rebounds with three turnovers. In fact, none of UNLV’s impressive height made much of a difference as Air Force outrebounded the Runnin’ Rebels 33-29 and had a 19-2 edge in second-chance points.

But in the waning moments it was 5-11 Jordan Johnson, who scored 20, putting in five straight points with an assist and a key steal. And it was 6-2 Javon Mooring — whose 3 at the buzzer kept Air Force from winning in Las Vegas last year — hitting the dagger 3-pointer with 19 seconds left.

If it’s not one thing it’s another.

“I’m trying to stay positive the most I can,” said Lavelle Scottie, who scored 26 to pace the Falcons.

Swan and Scottie combined for 42 points against UNLV (13-4, 2-2 Mountain West) after going for 31 in a tight loss to Mountain West-leading Nevada on Saturday. The sophomore interior players provide the most encouraging tandem the Falcons have had in at least a decade.

But Swan doesn’t want to hear that yet. Not until there’s a victory to show for it.

“This is probably the worst feeling I’ve ever had,” he said. “I hate losing. This is the first time I’ve ever had to experience this. It’s just tough. I had my mom yelling at me to stay positive. Got to listen to mom.”

Swan provided some clips for his personal highlight film, isolating McCoy on three occasions and beating the McDonald’s All-American for buckets.

“I don’t really care about that, to be honest,” Swan said. “In the future, I guess I could tell my kids, ‘Oh yeah, I locked him up.’ That’ll be a good story for the future, but right now I don’t really care about that stuff.”

Yep, it’s an oddly frustrating time for Air Force (6-10, 0-4). Odd in that this could be the most improved team in the nation over the past three weeks, yet not able to enjoy that just yet.

They were close to breaking down that door, withstanding a sluggish start to tie it at 66 and 68. They got there thanks to 20 of 24 free throws and hustle plays that resulted in 15 more shot attempts than the Runnin’ Rebels.

But, again, it wasn’t enough.

“We’re so close,” coach Dave Pilipovich said. “More for them than me, is to get one in the victory column to reward them for their efforts and what they’re doing. But it’s going to come. We’re four games into (the conference season) and we’re excited about 14 more to go. We’re getting better.”

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

or
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 
This is your last FREE article for the month
This is your last FREE article for the month

Subscribe now and enjoy Unlimited Digital Access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
You have reached your article limit for the month
You have reached your article limit for the month

We hope that you've enjoyed your complimentary access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.