Air Force Academy, Colo. • In the end, freshman Jalen Moore wound up taking a desperation last-second 3-pointer that missed.
That’s not what the Aggies wanted, though, in their 73-72 loss to Air Force at Clune Arena on Wednesday night.
Instead, Moore said, they were hoping to run a screen for guard Marcel Davis by fellow guard Preston Medlin, and create an open shot based on how the Falcons had been defending pick-and-rolls all night.
But the Falcons “disrupted” the play, coach Stew Morrill said, by defending the play differently. “They doubled, and we just made an instinctive play and really didn’t get much.”
After a frantic final 11 seconds, Moore had no choice but to try his heave from near the corner.
“I didn’t completely have the ball in my hand,” he said, “but I was just trying to get the shot up there with enough time that maybe we could get a rebound and a tip-in. But it was a contested three so it was kind of a hard shot.”
Long time, no see
Hard to believe, but the Aggies hadn’t played at Air Force since 1977 — a span of almost 37 years.
The Ags won that game 74-69, and were 10-2 all-time in the series before losing Wednesday, with eight straight victories. That included the last meeting between the teams, a 59-50 Utah State victory in Logan on Dec. 30, 2000.
Trouble on the boards
Utah State entered the game leading the Mountain West Conference in rebounding margin, with an average advantage of 11.8 boards against their opponents.
But that came apart against the Falcons.
Even with the Falcons playing only one player taller than 6-foot-7 — that was junior forward Marek Olesinski, at 6-9 — they outrebounded the Aggies 30-26. Much of the damage was done when Utah State’s 6-10 junior center Jordan Stone was stuck on the bench in foul trouble, with starting senior center Jarred Shaw still suspended and nobody else big enough to protect the rim.
The Ags had been outrebounded only twice this season, and just by one rebound each time, in wins against USC and Troy.