LAS VEGAS — Hot-shooting Air Force shredded Fresno State’s zone defense and bounced the Bulldogs out of the Mountain Conference men’s basketball tournament, 77-70, on Wednesday afternoon.
The ninth-seeded Falcons (12-19) got a career-high 24 points from guard AJ Walker and 21 points from forward Lavelle Scottie to avenge two regular-season losses to the Bulldogs (11-19).
Walker made 5 of 7 shots from 3-point range.
Air Force faces regular-season MW champion and fifth-ranked San Diego State (28-1) in a quarterfinal game Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Falcons shot 53.7% from the field after shooting poorly against the ninth-seeded Bulldogs’ zone defense in their losses to Fresno State.
Williams Gets Hot in Second Half
New Williams scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half to keep the Bulldogs close.
But Air Force kept Fresno State at bay by dominating the paint and scoring 14 points off fastbreak baskets.
The Falcons also hounded Fresno State freshman standout Orlando Robinson, limiting him to two points in 26 minutes.
Grimes Put Bulldogs Ahead in Final 5 Minutes
Nate Grimes added 13 points and 11 rebounds. Noah Blackwell and Niven Hart each scored 13 points as well.
Grimes hit a 3-pointer to give Fresno State a 66-64 lead with 4 minutes, 33 seconds to play, but the Bulldogs shot just 1 of 8 from there as Air Forced scored 13 of the final 17 points.
The boxscore is at this link.