With his 20/20 vision restored, Lavelle Scottie looked like he just might go 20-for-20.
The Air Force junior didn’t quite get there after making his first 11 shots, but he scored a career-high 34 points and sealed the Falcons’ 81-76 victory over Wyoming with a blocked shot in the final seconds.
Scottie made 15-of-20 shots to go with seven rebounds, a steal and just one turnover.
“I feel back to normal,” said Scottie, who sat much of Saturday’s blowout loss to Colorado State when his vision went blurry because of a migraine. “I don’t know what to say about my vision going out. That was scary. I’m just glad I didn’t have problems tonight and I came out and performed.”
Ryan Swan also returned to form, as the junior had 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals without a turnover.
The Falcons needed every bit of those performances from their leaders as Wyoming kept hanging around. The Cowboys made 15 3-pointers, plus twice drew fouls on 3s and made all three free throws, and used those to keep coming back when it looked like the Falcons would put them away.
Wyoming (5-17, 1-8 Mountain West) made 6 of 7 3s in a flurry to cut a 16-point deficit to 3 with 39 seconds remaining before a Scottie free throw stretched it back to a two-possession game.
The Falcons led throughout, never letting the Cowboys’ threats turn into anything more than tension-builders.
“I definitely think we have the ability to close out games,” Scottie said. “Could I say that in years past? No. I couldn’t even say that at the beginning of the season. But we trust each other and in crunch time, we don’t panic. I feel like in the past we kind of panicked a lot and went the other way, not in our favor.”
Now Air Force (10-13, 5-6) enters its first bye of the conference season before traveling to UNLV on Feb. 12 with a chance to sweep the season series and even the league record.
And it goes into that break – Scottie intends to use Thursday’s off day to eat and sleep as much as possible and crank out some homework – after returning to the form that led to some success in January. That formula was Scottie and Swan leading in scoring and rebounding, freshman point guard A.J. Walker contributing double-digit scoring efforts and the rest of the lineup filling the gaps as needed. That’s how things worked on Wednesday, with Walker scoring 12 points with four assists, four steals and one turnover.
That look – of this 53.3 percent shooting performance – wasn’t present in back-to-back losses to San Diego State and Colorado State that came by a combined 47 points.
“This was a big game for us,” coach Dave Pilipovich said. “This was a turning point game. If you don’t win this game you go to 4-7 and now you’ve lost three and you’re on the road and you’re starting to think about where you’re at.”
Instead, the Falcons have won 3 of 5 and take some confidence into a needed break.
“We needed that,” Scottie said. “I don’t know what people have been saying about us, if they think everything’s been a fluke so far. Nothing’s been a fluke. We just had some hiccups and we’re going to get back after it. Don’t sleep on the Air Force Academy. Don’t sleep on us.”
But Scottie’s going to sleep. For now. Got to rest those eyes.