San Diego State edges Air Force 53-49 in Mountain West Conference semis
LAS VEGAS (AP)—Lorrenzo Wade sank four free throws and grabbed a critical rebound in the final seven seconds, allowing San Diego State to edge Air Force 53-49 Thursday in the Mountain West Conference tournament quarterfinals.
The Aztecs (20-11) advanced to face No. 24 BYU in the semifinals despite making just two baskets in the final 16:07, both of them by Richie Williams.
The Aztecs have three consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time since 1938-41.
It appeared as though Wade might be lamenting a loss instead of celebrating a win after he charged into Andrew Henke with 20.1 seconds left and the Aztecs clinging to a 49-48 lead.
Instead of playing for the last shot, however, the Falcons (16-14) broke San Diego State’s press and Anwar Johnson, who didn’t score any points, darted to the basket only to miss the layup.
San Diego State got the ball and Wade was fouled and sank both free throws for a 51-48 lead with seven seconds left.
Tim Anderson, who led Air Force with 17 points, was fouled before he could get off a game-tying 3-pointer. He sank his first free throw and missed his second.
Wade skied above the outstretched arms of three Falcons to pull down the rebound and draw another foul. He sank both shots and finished with 12 points, including a career-best 10 of them from the stripe.
Ryan Amoroso led the Aztecs with 15 points, including a career-high nine free throws.
Overall, the Aztecs made 20-of-22 free throws—critically important against a deliberate, disciplined team like Air Force that makes every possession precious. San Diego State’s three lowest-scoring outputs of the season all came against the Falcons, who beat them 46-43 Saturday.
The Aztecs jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first half and took a 32-21 lead into the locker room before going cold.
Williams’ basket with 16:07 left made it 39-30 but the Aztecs wouldn’t make another field goal until Williams, who scored 12 points, hit a floater with 2:20 remaining. That gave San Diego Sate a 47-46 lead after the Falcons had taken their first and only lead of the game on Anderson’s three-point play with 2:45 left.
Henke added 16 points for the Falcons, who fell to 0-9 all-time in the Mountain West Conference tournament and 4-22 in conference postseason play. They’ve lost 16 consecutive opening-round league tournament games, including the last seven by an average of not even five points.