COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – For the second straight contest, the TSU Tigers went down to the wire as Air Force pulled out a 61-57 win Wednesday night.
TSU jumped out to a fast start as they led 23-10 nearly 12 minutes in and would push its lead to as much as 15 (29-14) with 5:24 remaining. The double-digit margin would hold for nearly three minutes until an 11-0 run by Air Force cut the lead to 33-28 at the half.
Air Force claimed its first lead of the game with 16:58 remaining in the second half after a three-pointer from Joseph Octave but Justin Hopkins reclaimed the lead after his dunk gave TSU a 37-36 lead at the 16:44 mark. TSU would remain out front over the next minute as the lead grew to 41-36 but an offensive foul by TSU led directly to a three-pointer by the Falcons and a 41-38 lead. TSU’s A.J. Lawson answered with a layup for a 43-39 margin but the Tigers missed prime opportunity to pad the lead after missing three consecutive shots while Air Force’s Jake Heidbreder hit a trey to draw within 43-42 with 11:42 on the clock.
The scoring would nearly cease for TSU as they went 1-of-9 from the field over the next seven minutes while Air Force went 6-for-11 en route to reclaiming a 53-46 lead. A PJ Henry basket would end TSU’s drought as the Tigers began chipping away at the end. TSU responded with a 7-2 run to get back within 57-55 after Jordan Gilliam’s three-pointer.
Air Force responded with a layup off a reverse dribble in the paint to make it a two-possession game (59-55). TSU was whistled for a turnover on the ensuing possession as Karl Nicholas was bumped by the Air Force defender while attempting to catch the ball in the paint. TSU was forced to foul as a result and Air Force bumped the lead to 61-55 after a pair of free throws. With time winding down and a two-possession Air Force lead, TSU would miss its next three shots unfortunately before scoring on a late basket with a second left.
John Walker III scored 16 points and grabbed four rebounds while Hopkins and Nicholas also had 10 points each. Nicholas also led TSU with six rebounds and had two steals.
TSU is back in action on Sunday at NC State in Raleigh, N.C. for a 5 p.m. start.
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