Only a game as strange as this one could leave such conflicted feelings within Air Force players.
The Falcons lost to Nevada 100-85 on Saturday at Clune Arena. The Wolf Pack exploded to a 16-point lead in the first half, only to see the Falcons force ties at 64, 66 and 68. Then Nevada scored the next 13 points.
“That’s a hard loss right there,” said Air Force’s Lavelle Scottie, who scored a team-high 23 points to go with eight rebounds. “We definitely had chances to take the lead and possibly win the game.
“I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed. I’m more encouraged because we can definitely take a lot of positives from this and move forward. We’ve got 18 games left in the conference.”
Notes from Air Force's 100-85 home loss to Nevada on Saturday.
The Falcons fell behind by 19 points in the closing minutes after forcing those ties.
“You’re fighting, fighting, fighting, fighting, and you’re using all your juice to get back into the game,” Scottie said. “And then they go on an 11-0 run, it’s definitely difficult.”
Anyone watching the first or last 10 minutes of the game could see the talent disparity on the floor.
The Wolf Pack — led by 31 points from junior transfer Jalen Harris — had a large height advantage and displayed touch from the outside that led to 13-of-23 shooting from 3-point range.
The Falcons, however, found answers to combat that. To a point.
“We’ve got to close it,” Falcons coach Dave Pilipovich said. “Disappointed in that. Disappointed that we didn’t close it.”
“Disappointed that we didn’t close it out the right way when we had it 68-68, but you can’t hit the reset button like a video game and play it over again. We’ve got to learn from that.”
The Falcons (4-6) now hit a strange portion of their schedule. They went 1-1 in this brief foray into Mountain West play, necessitated when the conference moved its tournament up a week to avoid conflicts in Las Vegas. Now comes finals, following by four more nonconference games — starting Dec. 14 at Denver.
The thought process is that the team has seen it all now. It’s won on the road in the league, and it’s played even for about 33 minutes with one of the most talented teams in the league. And it did this without starting guard Chris Joyce and while Ryan Swan hasn’t reached top form while coming back from early injuries.
“We have a great group of guys,” said guard A.J. Walker, who scored 21 points Saturday. “Everybody is all-in for this. We just need to band together, stay connected. We’ll be all right.”