Colorado State vs Air Force

No. 24 Colorado St. 89, Air Force 86 wire reports

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Larry Eustachy wants 24th-ranked Colorado State to be better than good.

The Rams' first-year coach had bigger goals in mind after his squad held off a gritty Air Force team 89-86 on Saturday.

"I'm talking to our team about being great -- not good, but great," said Eustachy, selected the Associated Press coach of the year in 2000 while at Iowa State. "I've had two great teams, and I'd like for them to be my third great team. We've got a long way to go to do it, but I think they're willing to do it.

"We want to be special, and they all buy into it."

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A road win over an improved Falcons team was a step in the right direction, as Air Force entered the game 11-1 at home. Colorado State (21-4, 8-2 Mountain West) trailed 23-19 in the first half, but used its size en route to a 39-23 rebounding advantage and 18 second-chance points.

Eustachy joked about what would be the difference in his team being great rather than just good.

"If they [help me] hit my marks and get my salary bonuses, then they'll be a great team," he said. "They'll be special. They'll be just super."

Dorian Green scored 22 points to lead all five starters in double figures and propel Colorado State to its sixth consecutive win.

The Rams led 82-72 with 1:05 remaining, but the Falcons (15-9, 6-5) pulled within four twice in the final minute. Michael Lyons hit a 3-pointer for Air Force with two seconds left, but Colorado State inbounded the ball without incident to close the game.

It was a quality test for the surging Rams, who face UNLV and conference-leading New Mexico next week.

"It went down to the wire and was one of the better games we've been in in a long time," Eustachy said. "It took a special effort and a special game for us to beat them. It's a special win, and they're hard to get."

The Rams, who have won eight of nine, got production from a number of players. Pierce Hornung posted a double-double with 13 points and 16 boards.

"We did a good job of not letting the environment affect our game, but we certainly can improve quite a bit on what we did today," Hornung said. "It was a great environment with a sellout crowd, and their fans were nuts, as always. But give credit to our fans for coming out, too."

Air Force trailed 75-72 with 3:29 left, but CSU used a 7-0 run during the next two minutes to push its lead to double digits. The Falcons fell to 3-79 all-time against ranked teams after defeating 22nd-ranked San Diego State 70-67 on Dec. 2.

Lyons, the conference's leading scorer, had a career-high 45 points for the Falcons on 17-of-25 shooting. He finished with the most scored by a Mountain West player this season, the most ever by a Falcons player in a conference game and in Clune Arena, and the most for an Air Force player since Bob Beckel had a school-record 50 against Arizona on Feb. 28, 1959.

"Games like this don't come very often for very many people," said Lyons, who is averaging 19.2 points per game. "I hit a couple shots in a row and that got me going. I kind of rode that wave the whole game. I was fortunate enough for my teammates to find me. I thank them for that."

Todd Fletcher added 11 points for Air Force.

Wes Eikmeier had 19 points for the Rams despite 3-of-10 shooting from 3-point range, but came through down the stretch with seven points in the final 2:57. Greg Smith had 16 points, with Colton Iverson adding 15.

Air Force has lost three of its last four and dropped its first conference game at home (5-1). Its 86 points were the most in a losing effort since a 114-87 loss to Texas Christian on Jan. 21, 2000.

CSU defeated Air Force 79-40 in Fort Collins on Jan. 16.

"We didn't lose, we just ran out of time," Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. "It's hard because you work so hard and come up a little short. We have some more games to go win, and you have to let this one go after a short amount of time."

Both teams shot better than 53 percent from the field, and the Rams scored 26 points from the free-throw line while limiting Air Force to just 12 free-throw attempts.

Air Force led 23-19 midway through the first half, but the Rams used their size to build a 21-5 rebounding advantage in the first 20 minutes and took the lead for good with Smith's free throw with 4:59 remaining.

CSU led 48-40 at the break.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Colorado State #24 (21-4) «484189
Air Force (15-9)404686
COLOST:D. Green 22 Pts
COLOST:P. Hornung 16 Reb
COLOST:P. Hornung 4 Ast
AF:M. Lyons 45 Pts
AF:M. Fitzgerald 4 Reb
AF:T. Fletcher 6 Ast

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Colorado StateAir Force
Pierce Hornung
Michael Lyons
Colorado State Rams
D. Green, G386-127-923222
P. Hornung, F385-102-3164213
W. Eikmeier, G367-142-243319
G. Smith, F253-610-1261416
C. Iverson, F-C246-63-551415
D. Bejarano, G190-20-03000
J. Octeus, G181-22-33114
G. Santo, F20-00-00010
J. Carr, GDid Not Play
T. Williams, CDid Not Play
D. Smith, GDid Not Play
J. De Ciman, GDid Not Play
J. Mason, GDid Not Play
J. Morgan, GDid Not Play
S. Wynn, GDid Not Play
Totals 28-5226-3439131789
Air Force Falcons
M. Lyons, G3317-255-820445
T. Fletcher, G324-80-016211
M. Fitzgerald, F292-30-04044
T. Broekhuis, C173-70-03117
D. Earls, F132-50-02035
K. Williams, F233-50-23327
K. Green, G200-30-03530
M. Olesinski, F121-40-03223
T. Coggins, G80-00-00120
M. Yon, G71-22-20004
C. Kammerer, F30-00-01110
J. Hammonds, F30-00-00000
E. Michael, FDid Not Play
S. Adler, GDid Not Play
A. LaLonde, GDid Not Play
M. Leipprandt, FDid Not Play
C. Litt, F-CDid Not Play
C. Michael, GDid Not Play
Z. Moer, CDid Not Play
D. Salomon, CDid Not Play
S. Vernon, FDid Not Play
Totals 33-627-1222192486
Mountain West
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Colorado St.13-524-1266
Boise St.12-620-1272
Fresno St.11-720-1376
New Mexico10-817-1486
San Diego St9-919-1498
San Jose St.7-1114-16191
Utah St.7-1114-17181
Air Force4-1412-21251
Other games
ND 54 Final
PITT 69 Final
MU 79
UK 58 Final
FLA 83 Final
AUB 52
OKLA 79 Final
PUR 55 Final
IND 83
BUTL 68 Final
GONZ 71 Final
SF 61
DUKE 81 Final
MD 83
BAYL 61 Final
KSU 81
ORE 79 Final
WSU 77
MEMP 71 Final
MIST 73 Final
NEB 64
SYR 76 Final
BOISE 50 Final
TEXAS 47 Final
KAN 73