Air Force flies by SDSU

Peter+Kluch%2C+Senior+Staff+Photographer

Peter Kluch, Senior Staff Photographer

by Ryan Schuler

Peter Kluch, Senior Staff Photographer
Peter Kluch, Senior Staff Photographer

This was not supposed to happen. This was supposed to be the bounce-back game for the No. 13 San Diego State men’s basketball team. After two straight losses to UNLV and New Mexico, Air Force seemed like the perfect candidate to get SDSU back to its winning ways.

Air Force had other things in mind.

The Falcons defeated the Aztecs in Colorado Springs, Colo., 58-56, on Saturday afternoon to drop the Aztecs to 20-6 overall and 6-4 in the Mountain West Conference. With the loss, SDSU is in the midst of its first three-game losing streak since February 2008. To make matters worse, Air Force had not beaten a Top-25 ranked team since February 1992.

The already shorthanded Aztecs would play the game without starting sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin, who leads the conference in scoring with 16 points per game.

Franklin, who sprained his ankle in the final minutes against New Mexico, participated in some pregame warm-ups and was a game-time decision, but was ultimately kept out of the game.

Senior center Garrett Green would start in place for Franklin, but Green was unable to escape injury as well. Eight minutes into the second half, Green also sprained his ankle, ending his night with five points and 10 rebounds.

Junior guard Chase Tapley led all Aztec players with 17 points to compliment nine rebounds, while senior forward Tim Shelton posted the second double-double of his career, scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Air Force (13-11, 3-7 MW), which snapped an eight-game losing streak against SDSU, was led by junior guard Michael Lyons, who scored 27 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers when the score was tied at 48.

“It’s hard to win anywhere, especially on the road,” SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said. “And it is especially hard when you shoot it as poorly as we did.”

The Aztecs had a chance for a game-winning 3-pointer, but sophomore guard Xavier Thames’ off-balance shot was no good at the buzzer.

The Aztecs went ice cold during one stretch in the second half, missing 13 straight shots and failing to make a field goal for more than 11 minutes, allowing Air Force to keep the game competitive.

“I’m sure Air Force had a lot to do with it, but we have to be able to make plays and finish plays,” Fisher said.

SDSU returns home to take on Wyoming at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday night at Viejas Arena.