SAN MARCOS, Texas – Air Force dug itself into a hole with 11 first-half turnovers and couldn’t quite crawl out of it on the road.
The Falcons cut a 15-point second-half deficit to 5 in the final minutes, but fell 67-57 at Texas State as the Bobcats opened a new arena.
Air Force managed just 22 points in the first half before mounting the comeback bid, but top player Lavelle Scottie, who has battled pneumonia for the past week, was called for a pair of traveling violations and stepped into the lane to negate a teammate’s free throw in the final minutes as the Fort Worth native played in his home state.
The Falcons had defeated Texas State 65-57 last year on Nov. 12 at Clune Arena.
“We fought. I thought we played extremely hard in the second half,” said Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich – who continues to show patience with a team that features just one senior, has been plagued by Scottie’s illness and an early injury to Caleb Morris – as he talked with radio play-by-play announcer Jim Arthur on the postgame show on KVOR 740 AM. “I told our team we grew as a team as this game progressed.”
The Falcons (1-1) received 11 points apiece from Scottie, Ryan Swan, Sid Tomes and Ameka Akaya.
This was the opener for Texas State, so Air Force had an incomplete scouting report to work from. The Bobcats surprised the visitors somewhat with the play of transfer guard Jaylen Shead from Cal-Poly. But it was the defense of Texas State, particularly in the first half, that made the difference.
“I told our guys if they play defense like that, they can be a serious contender,” Texas State coach Danny Kaspar said on the ESPN-Plus broadcast. “I’m very proud.”
Texas State made six consecutive free throws to keep Air Force’s late rally at a distance.
“I’m happy for my team in the fact that we never give up, no matter the circumstances,” Akaya told Arthur. “I’m excited for what the season holds for us.”