USAF ACADEMY — Air Force men's basketball (10-9, 3-5 MW) lost a tough one to Wyoming (16-3, 4-1 MW), 63-61, in Mountain West action Friday afternoon at Clune Arena. Hunter Maldonado's bucket as time expired was the difference as Cowboys escaped with the win.
The game seemed out of reach as the Falcons trailed Wyoming by seven with under four minutes to play. But the Falcons rallied to tie the game with a 9-2 two-run. Highlighting the rally was a pair of three's by senior AJ Walker. Walker's second three tied the game up with nine seconds left.
Following a timeout, Wyoming in-bounded and got the ball to Maldonado, who drove all the way across the court and scored the game-winning bucket on a driving layup as time expired. Maldonado finished with 31 points and five rebounds. Forward Graham Ike added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Walker led Air Force with 18 points, shooting 8 of 13 from the field and 2 of 5 from three-point range. Joining Walker in double figures were freshmen Jake Heidbreder and Ethan Taylor. Heidbreder scored 14 points, to go with three rebounds and three assists. Taylor added 12 points, all in the second half, to go with a game-high six assists in 40 minutes played.
Air Force shot 54.5 percent from the field. The Falcons held Wyoming to 16.7 percent shooting from three-point range. They did trail in the rebounding battle 36-25 and were out-scored 16-7 on second-chance points.
The Falcons jumped ahead early, leading by as many as nine points. Wyoming responded with a 9-0 run to tie it up. The teams battled back and forth the rest of the half with the Cowboys taking a 33-30 lead into the break. Maldonado scored 18 points in the first half, getting to the free-throw line often, making 8 of 11 from the line.
Wyoming held onto the second half and got up by 11 with 7:40 to play. Air Force out-scored the Cowboys 19-10 the rest of the way but came up just one bucket short.
Air Force returns to action Tuesday, Feb. 1, at Utah State. The game tips at 7 pm MT and will be broadcast on the Mountain West Network.