Michael Lyons missed a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer as the Air Force Falcons fell short against the undefeated Wichita St. Shockers 72-69 Sunday before 1,793 at Clune Arena at the U.S. Air Force Academy as part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.
"I thought it was going in," said Air Force head coach Dave Pilipovich. "I thought initially Todd (Fletcher) was going to dribble up and take his shot because he was open, but he pulled and threw a scoop pass to Mike as a trailer. Mike usually makes that shot, but it was a hard shot late in the game and contested. He just missed it."
The two teams were tied 32-32 at halftime and the two teams remained close until Carl Hall made a lay up with 11:53 left in the game to give the Shockers a 51-49 lead they would never relinquish.
Hall posted a double-double, scoring a game-high 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to lead Wichita State (7-0) to the win. Mike Fitzgerald led Air Force (6-2) with 18 points while Taylor Broekhuis added 17 points. Lyons, who entered the game as the top scorer in the MWC, scored 12 points after struggling to a 0 for 8 shooting performance in the first half.
"Mike (Lyons) was the leading scorer in the conference coming into the game so he's got a bulls-eye on his back so there are going to be guys flying at him and really guarding him tight," said Pilipovich. "It was nice to see some other guys step up and make some shots tonight."
The Falcons were just 14-of-25 (56%) from the free-throw line, while Wichita State made 10 of their 14 attempts.
"We shoot every day in practice and we make free throws," said Pilipovich. "We're a good shooting team and we're better than we've shot here over the last few games. We have to make free throws."
Cleanthony Early scored 12 points and Demetric Williams came off the bench to add 10 points, including three 3-pointers for Wichita St. The Shockers shot 58 percent (28 of 48) from the field for the game. Air Force shot 45.5 percent (25 of 55), but made 14 of 25 at the free throw line.
"That's an unbelievable team," said Pilipovich of Wichita St. "They won 27 games last year. They went to the NIT two years ago and the NCAA's last year. Gregg (Marshall) is a really good coach. They are physical. He'll tell you they foul on every play because they are so physical.
"I'm proud of our guys because the stood up to that. Our practices all week were really physical this week," said Pilipovich. "We take this now because this will become a conference game later in the year."