WEST POINT, N.Y Air Force men’s basketball won for the first time ever at Cristl Arena in West Point, downing Army West Point, 69-57, in a hard-fought battle amongst service academy rivals Tuesday night. In the process, head coach Dave Pilipovich earned his 100th career win for the Falcons, who improved to 2-1 on the season.
The Falcons snapped a five-game skid to the Black Knights (1-2), which dated back to 2013.
Air Force battled back from a 10-0 deficit to start the game. The Falcons chipped away at Army’s lead and went to the half leading 29-26. The Black Knights rallied early in the second to take several leads in a back-and-forth game. The game featured seven lead changes.
The Falcons took control of the game midway through the second half, converting eight consecutive three-point plays in a big run that saw a three point deficit turn into a 14 point lead. Trailing 45-42 with under 12 minutes to play, the Falcons tied it up on a three from Sid Tomes. After an Army free throw, the Falcons took the lead for good on a field goal and free throw play by Ryan Swan at the 9:38 mark.
After the Falcons took the lead, senior Caleb Morris hit back-to-back three’s and then junior Chris Joyce matched Morris with back-to-back three’s to put Air Force ahead 60-50 with 3:42 to play.
Senior Lavelle Scottie led the Falcons with 17 points and Swan notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Tomes and Morris scored 10 points each and Joyce chipped-in with nine.
Air Force forced Army into 15 turnovers and held the Black Knights to 19 percent shooting on three’s. The Falcons made nine three’s on the game and had a 14-4 advantage on free throws made. Tucker Blackwell led Army with 22 points. Matt Wilson added 12 points.
Pilipovich became just the fourth head coach to reach 100 wins in Air Force history. He is the first to do so at Air Force since Reggie Minton, who coach at Air Force from 1984-2000.
Air Force returns to action Nov. 18 at TCU. The game tips at 8 pm CT and will be televised by Fox Sports Southwest Plus.