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Falcons prove up to challenge in 79-60 win over Utah State

Posted at 12:52 AM, Jan 08, 2020

In front of the largest crowd at Clune Arena (4,563) since 2013, the Air Force men's basketball team used a complete team effort to top Utah State 79-60 Tuesday night.

Senior forward Ryan Swan led the way for the Falcons, pouring in 31points and 11 rebounds to lead his team back to .500 at 8-8 on the season.

"It ranks up there because this is the best I've seen us play to this point," Swan said.

Bringing the fight to the much taller Aggies roster, Air Force outrebounded USU 50-29 overall, including 13-7 on the offensive boards.

Trailing 34-31 at halftime, Dave Pilipovich's veteran-laden squad used a 16-0 second half run to build a commanding lead and take down the Mountain West Conference favorites.

Senior Sid Tomes played a huge role in the win, recording eight points, six assists, five rebounds and holding MWC standout Sam Merrill to 4-of-12 shooting and 10 points on the night.

"Ultimately, college basketball is about who's the tougher team," Tomes said. "For the last 30 minutes I thought we were the tougher team. They're a very talented team, well coached. We knew X's and O's weren't going to get it done itself. We had to bring an extra chip on our shoulder, and extra edge and I think that was the difference."

Sophomore guard A.J. Walker added 12 points, with junior Keaton Van Soelen coming off the bench to add nine points and eight rebounds.

Back to even at 2-2 in conference play, the Falcons hit the road to take on New Mexico Saturday. Tip-off from Albuquerque is set for 4 p.m.