Air Force senior Michael Lyons did everything he could and then some on his home court to beat Colorado State on Saturday, but the Rams had too many options to counter the Falcons' one-man show in their 89-86 victory.
Lyons scored a career best 45 points, including six of the Falcons' 13 3-pointers, but CSU is in the midst of a magical season under first-year coach Larry Eustachy and part of that magic has been finding ways to win in the rugged Mountain West Conference. The 24th-ranked Rams earned a spot in the national polls this week for the first time since 1954 and refused to join the long list of teams who have been one-week-and-done in the rankings after similar absences over the years.
Lyons' 45 points were the third highest individual scoring performance in the nation this season behind Nate Wolters of South Dakota State, who scored 53 against IPFW 10 days ago and Travis Bader of Oakland University, who scored 47 against IUPUI on Jan. 24. The game in the middle of another Air Force surge led by Lyons and it seemed if there were just a few more possessions for him, Air Force might have pulled off the upset.
Colorado State had to win on the backs of its starters with only four points scored from the reserves. Fortunately, all five starters were on their game, led by senior Dorian Green, who scored 22 points. It was only the second time this season he has scored 20 or more.
The Rams could be alone if first-place in the conference if Boise State upset New Mexico later tonight in Albuquerque. Colorado State will host New Mexico next Saturday in a game that could determine the Mountain West regular season champion.