GAME NOTES: In the regular-season finale for both clubs, the Air Force Falcons host the Boise State Broncos in a Mountain West Conference matchup at Clune Arena.
Boise State lost in double-overtime, 83-81, at home to Nevada on Wednesday night. Despite the setback, the Broncos have still won four of six and are tied for fourth place with Nevada in the MWC standings. Boise State will clinch the No. 4 seed in the Mountain West Tournament with a win today.
Air Force fell at New Mexico, also on Wednesday, 80-52. That left the Falcons with just one win in their last five tries. They are locked in as the No. 10 seed in the MWC Tournament, and will play their first-round game on Wednesday, March 12.
Boise State owns a 4-2 advantage in the all-time series with Air Force, which includes a 69-58 victory earlier this season in Boise. The teams split a pair of games last season, with Air Force winning 91-80 at Clune Arena, and Boise State prevainling in a 77-65 final on its home court. Each team has won once at Clune Arena in the series.
Ryan Watkins led all scorers with 27 points and 14 rebounds for the Broncos in the double-overtime loss to Nevada, while Derrick Marks finished with 16 points and Anthony Drmic and Jeff Elorriaga each chipped in with 15. The Wolf Pack were able to take a 32-24 lead into halftime by holding Boise State to just 25.8 percent shooting from the field and 3-of-13 from beyond the arc. The Broncos mounted their comeback after the break by connecting on 62.5 percent of their field goal attempts in the second half. Neither team could score in the final two minutes as the game went into an extra session. BSU's Thomas Bropleh knocked down a last-second 3-pointer to send the game into a second overtime tied at 69-69, but the Wolf Pack scored the first points of the second extra session and never trailed again, making 8-of-9 free-throws in the period.
Due to scoring in triple figures in three of the first four games of the season against suspect competition, the Broncos are averaging a conference- best 76.7 ppg overall, but that number drops down to 72.5 ppg when it comes to conference play. Drmic leads the squad with 16.8 ppg, followed by Marks (14 ppg) and Watkins (13.8 ppg), with Watkins also pulling down 10.8 rpg (jumping to 12.5 rpg in conference) along the way, making him one of the top rebounders in the league.
Tre' Coggins and Justin Hammonds netted 11 points apiece as Air Force was handled easily by No. 21 New Mexico. An early 8-0 run put the Lobos in front, 20-7. Air Force pulled to within seven points three times late in the first half, but never got over the hump. A 7-0 surge to end the frame had UNM in front, 34-20, at halftime. The hosts then shot 60 percent and dominated the second half, going up 54-34, as they cruised to victory.
Coggins, who was suspended for a few games this season, has started all but two of the 24 tilts in which he has appeared, leading to his 16.1 ppg, stemming from an impressive 39.4 percent shooting from the perimeter. Yon checks in with another 13 ppg and leads the squad with 73 assists, but still Air Force is producing a mediocre 66.3 ppg and permitting 69.7 ppg, giving the Falcons the second-worst scoring margin in the Mountain West.
Boise State is the only one of these teams playing for something today, so expect the Broncos to come out with extra incentive. They have the much better offense and the Falcons have not impressed at either end of the court this season, which should spell good news for the visitors.
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