Senior Day for Air Force turns into showcase for Boise State shooters

March 4, 2017 Updated: March 4, 2017 at 8:30 pm
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The Air Force team rallies before their game against San Jose State at Clune Arena at Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Nearly 45 minutes passed after the final buzzer in another clunker of a game before Zach Kocur finally made his way into the locker room.

The Air Force senior lingered all the while, signing autographs, talking to family and friends, posing for pictures and finding a way to smile even after a 98-70 loss to Boise State in the home finale.

"I can't say I haven't had this feeling for a good amount of the season," said Kocur, who scored 15 points on Senior Day. "It has not gone as we've hoped."

The Broncos sucked any drama out of Saturday's home farewell for Kocur, Hayden Graham and Kyle Broekhuis - who has missed most of the season with an injury but checked in for the final 20 seconds. Boise State (19-10, 12-6 Mountain West) tied a conference record with 20 3-pointers, made 11 of its first 12 shots and its 98 points were the most for an opponent at Air Force since 1989.

James Reid hit eight 3-pointers on the way to 26 points, longtime thorn-in-Air-Force's-side Nick Duncan had 23 points in just 19 minutes and this game wasn't competitive beyond the opening minutes.

"We didn't guard them," said Falcons coach Dave Pilipovich, whose team gave up season highs in points and field-goal percentage. "We gave them those opportunities.

"They were really good. Caught us from the beginning and it snowballed."

Air Force (11-20, 4-14) finished 10th in the conference and will play No. 7 Wyoming at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas.

The problem is that Saturday's result has suddenly become commonplace. For most of the season the Falcons were there to the end in games, even as they rarely finished on top. Then came a series of lineup changes and more sporadic results. On Feb. 22, everything came together in a 23-point blowout of UNLV that seemed like it might be the turning point.

It was instead a cliff, as the Falcons have since tumbled to a 31-point loss at Utah State, a loss at San Diego State in which it scored just 38 points, and now this game in which Boise State scored its most points as a member of the Mountain West and had its best shooting percentage in a game under coach Leon Rice.

"We're not saying it's check-out time," Pilipovich said. "It's check-in time. We're going to go hard at whoever we play in Vegas and maybe look at some different combinations to start moving forward maybe with that."

Kocur, who became the sixth Falcon to play in 120 career games, agreed.

"It's definitely a little sad that Hayden and I had to go out this way here, but there's still more basketball to be played," Kocur said. "I want to do whatever I can, and I know Hayden feels the same way, to finish it differently than it finished up here."

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