LARAMIE, Wyo. - Good things came in 3s for Air Force on Wednesday.
Over and over and over.
The Falcons hit 17 3-pointers — one off a program record — to win their Mountain West opener 86-77 at Wyoming.
It was Air Force's most lopsided conference road win since January 2015, while the 17 3s were the most for a Wyoming opponent.
“We were feeling it tonight,” said Lavelle Scottie, who made three 3-pointers on the way to 19 points. “If we’re all feeling it, let’s get it. Let’s share it. Let’s get some shots.”
The Falcons shot 17 of 30 from 3 and shot 58.1 percent from the field in the second half. They led by as many as 17 with 5 minutes remaining before Wyoming cut the deficit to 82-77 in the final 40 seconds.
But it was three field goals — this time 2s — that helped the Falcons put it away.
A.J. Walker hit a runner as the shot clock expired, Ryan Swan made a layup and Scottie sealed it with a dunk.
“It went off the shot clock, off the backboard, off the flag hanging up there,” coach Dave Pilipovich said, describing the Walker runner with 1:30 remaining that halted a 10-0 Cowboys run.
Walker, the sophomore point guard, led Air Force (4-5, 1-0 Mountain West) with 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, which he had in 37 minutes without a turnover.
“Everybody else playing well, that was my favorite part,” Walker said. “Everybody else scoring.”
Wyoming had a big game from Colorado Springs native Hunter Maldonado. The Vista Ridge graduate led the Cowboys with 18 points, nine assists and nine rebounds.
“I think he’s a good player,” said Pilipovich, who said Maldonado attended an Air Force team camp and had an early offer from the Falcons. “I really like him. I like his demeanor.”
The 3-point line has served as the barometer through the early season for the Falcons. When they’ve shot better than 30%, they’re 4-0. When they’ve failed to hit that threshold, they’re 0-5.
Five Air Force players had at least three 3-pointers. Walker was 4 of 5. Caleb Morris was 4 of 8 on the way to 15 points. Ryan Swan was 3 of 6 and scored 17. Scottie was 3 of 4. Freshman Mason Taylor was 3 of 4 and scored 13 points.
“I’ve been working with them. I told these other (coaches), ‘Leave them alone, I’ve got it. I’m going to work the shooting drills,” Pilipovich joked of the reason behind the 3-point barrage.
In reality, he explained that the inside-out action in the offense presented the team with the looks from 3 it wanted.
“They were really trying to pack the paint,” Scottie said. “If they’re doubling off in the post, somebody’s open for a wide-open shot.”
This marks three straight wins for Air Force over Wyoming (3-6, 0-1), and four of the past five.