Nevada played well enough on offense to win the game tonight. The Wolf Pack shot 57 percent from the field in the first half and for the game shot 46 percent and out rebounded Air Force 35-29. But Nevada's defense was porous tonight as Air Force shot 53 percent from the field for the game and also the Falcons shot 50 percent from three point land.
But what really did Nevada in was their ice cold free throw shooting.
The Wolf Pack struggled big time from the free throw line as the Wolf Pack shot 43 percent (14-32) from the free throw line. Of all the Wolf Pack players who struggled from the line, forward AJ West struggled the most.
Despite another double double performance (11 points, 16 rebounds), West missed ten free throws (5-15 FT) tonight and he was hearing it from the Air Force fans whenever he went to the line. It was a tough night for him.
Air Force(13-14, 6-10 MW) took over the lead for good after a Marek Olesinski layup made the lead 41-40 early in the second half. Then the Falcons extended the lead to 12 points late in the game but a Micahel Perez three pointer and a Eric Cooper Jr., jumper cut the Air Force lead to seven and that was the closest Nevada (8-19, 4-11 MW) could get. After being fouled by Nevada, Olesinski hit two free throws to give the Falcons the 71-62 lead.
Eric Cooper Jr., led all Wolf Pack scorers with 20 points and he made four three as well while guard Tyron Criswell chipped in with 12 points. Marqueze Coleman and Kalieb Rodriguez returned from their one game suspension and combined to go 0-4 from the field for zero points.
Olesinski and guard Zach Kocur both scored 18 points apiece for Air Force while forward Hayden Graham scored 12 points and grabbed ten rebounds.
This game is one of the more tougher losses for the Wolf Pack this season. Despite the defense turning in a below average performance, the team had a chance to keep the game close or even win the game but missing 18 free throws can hurt a team's chances of winning.
And tonight, it hurt the Wolf Pack's chances of coming away with a victory.