LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Air Force men’s basketball (14-17) overcame a 13-0 deficit to roll to an 87-56 win over San José State in the opening day of play Wednesday afternoon at the 2019 Air Force Reserves Mountain West Men’s Basketball Championships at Thomas & Mack Center. Sophomore Chris Joyce scored a career-high 20 points to lead three Falcons in double figures. The 31 point margin of victory was the biggest ever at the tournament for Air Force.
Playing at the sixth seed, Air Force allowed 11-seed San José State (4-27) to make its first five shots and take the commanding 13-0 lead. The Falcons came right back with a 15-0 run to take the lead. A three-by Ryan Swan put Air Force up 18-15 with 8:57 to go in the first.
After San Jose State scored a bucket to stop the run, the Falcons ripped off a 10-0 run. After the 25-2 burst, Air Force was up 28-17 with 5:44 to go in the first. The Falcons went into the half up 36-28.
San José State made a three to open the second half to get to within five points. That was as close as the Spartans would get as the Falcons out-scored SJSU 51-28 in the latter half. Air Force hit 11 three’s on the night, seven coming in the second half.
Air Force’s defeated San José State for the third time this season, marking the first time ever the Falcons had swept three games against an opponent in the same season. Air Force also won as the lower seed for the first time ever in the MW Championship Tournament.
Joyce shot 7 of 9 from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point range. The sophomore also chipped in with four assists.
Swan scored 14 points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. Lavelle Scottie reached double-figures in scoring for the ninth straight game, scoring 10 points. Scottie hit a pair of three’s and pulled down five rebounds.
AJ Walker led the Falcons with seven assists. Caleb Morris added eight points and a pair of three’s.
The Falcons got 30 points from its bench led by Sid Tomes and Ameka Akaya. Tomes hit a pair of three’s, scoring eight points, to go with four assists. Akaya scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds.
Seneca Knight led San José State with 15 points. Noah Baumann added 14.
Air Force out-rebounded San José State 45-28 and won the points in the paint battle 26-10. The Falcons also held a 12-0 advantage in second-chance points and 15-6 in points off turnovers.
Air Force returns to action Thursday night against three-seed Fresno State. Tip time is slated for 8:30 pm PT. The game will be televised by CBS Sports.