LAS VEGAS — Sophomore guard A.J. Walker scored a career-high 24 points as Air Force survived Fresno State’s 3-point barrage to advance to the 2020 Air Force Reserve Mountain West Men’s Championship quarterfinals.
"The activity on the defensive end really helped us, just having fun out there," said Walker. "When we're getting steals, getting out on the run it was like we were playing in high school. It was fun."
"We were just talking with each other, communicating with each other, just being very intense and just, like I said, leaving it all out there, and focusing in, just helping over when we need to help over, taking charges when we needed to take charges," added Scottie. "When they went on their run, we made it an emphasis to get a stop for us."
Walker connected on 5-of-7 from 3-point range, while senior forward Lavelle Scottie moved into fourth-place in the school’s all-time career scoring list with 21 points in the contest. He is now 10 points shy of Tim Harris (1977-81) for third on the school’s all-time list.
"It just shows my hard work and dedication for this game. I love this game," said Scottie, after becoming the 4th all-time scorer in Air Force history. "Without my teammates I wouldn't have got here. I want to emphasize that. And I thank them because they helped me on my journey to get where I am today. Ten points shy, I'm not worried about it. I'm ready to go out and win the next game, prepare for that.
The Falcons will go up against top-seeded and 5th best team in the country, San Diego State on Thursday. The Falcons are seeking their first-ever quarterfinal win.
"Well, they're a good team," said Scottie. "They're definitely a good team. But like I've told you this before, they put their shoes on like we put our shoes on. If we keep that focus and intensity and effort that we had tonight and learn from our mistakes, you never know. Anything could happen tomorrow."
"We're going to play extremely hard,' added Air Force men's basketball head coach Dave Pilipovich. "We're going to have a lot of fun. And hopefully we'll have some people cheering us on. Maybe the people that come in who aren't wearing red or blue will decide to wear blue because we're not fifth in the country. How about that?"