Shepard leads San Diego State past Air Force
San Diego, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Winston Shepard led a balanced San Diego State attack with 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the fifth-ranked Aztecs to a 64-56 win over Air Force at Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl.
Dwayne Polee II and Xavier Thames both finished with 13 and Josh Davis scored seven points to go with 10 boards for the Aztecs (22-2, 11-1 MWC), who bounced back from a 68-62 loss at Wyoming on Tuesday.
Fourteen of Shepard's 16 points came in the second half.
"Winston is a very smart basketball player. When he continues to get engaged and make easy plays, he adds so many positives to what we do," SDSU coach Steve Fisher said. "He's a very good passer, he's becoming a much more reliable free-throw shooter, he knows how to and has the ability to get to the rim. So he's a good player, he's a hard guard."
Max Yon led all scorers with 20 points and Kamryn Williams added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Falcons (10-14, 4-9), losers in seven of their last eight games.
"We were so close. We worked hard and put ourselves in position to get here. I wanted it so badly for those guys. It's going to come - there's some good things in that locker room," Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said.
The Aztecs led 24-23 after a closely contested first half. Air Force took an early 6-2 lead but SDSU scored eight straight to go up 10-6. The teams traded baskets from there until Yon's layup sparked a 9-0 swing that gave the Falcons a 17-12 lead with 7:04 left in the opening half.
SDSU countered with a 10-0 run to make it 22-17 with 2:15 to play, but Air Force outscored the hosts 6-2 the rest of the way.
Yon tied the game at 26-26 with his 3-pointer 1 1/2 minutes into the second half, but a 12-2 Aztecs run, capped with a Polee slam, gave SDSU a 38-28 lead.
Air Force chipped away at the deficit and made it a two-possession game, 44-40, after a DeLovell Earls layup at the 8:23 mark, but the Aztecs scored nine straight to take a 53-40 lead three minutes later. Shepard scored seven points on the flurry.
The Falcons once again battled back to pull within four, 54-50. It would be as close as Air Force would get the rest of the way as SDSU outscored the visitors 10-6 over the final two minutes.
Shepard scored seven points down the stretch and was 5-for-7 from the line in the closing moments.
SDSU will host Utah State on Tuesday ... Skylar Spencer had four blocks for the Aztecs ... SDSU (21-for-32) went to the free throw line 32 times compared to just 11 trips for Air Force (9-for-11) ... Air Force hosts Nevada Feb. 22.