SAN DIEGO — The Air Force Falcons kept shooting — and missing — 3-point shots against No. 16 San Diego State.
By the time SDSU had secured a 57-44 victory, Air Force had made only 1 of 18 from behind the arc.
What made it even worse was that 12 of the long shots were uncontested.
"Their athleticism sped us up," coach Jeff Reynolds said. "But we keep a chart on the bench as to whether it's a contested shot or an uncontested shot. Of the 18, 12 were pretty uncontested. When you have three starters (0 for 12), who are good shooters, we can't do that in this environment and win."
Chase Tapley scored 16 points and Jamaal Franklin had 14 points and 10 rebounds to help SDSU to its 10th straight win.
After winning high-intensity games against UNLV and New Mexico in previous days, the Aztecs never could quite put away the deliberate Falcons until the end.
Tapley had two quick baskets in the final minute for the Aztecs (17-2, 3-0 Mountain West Conference). In their previous two games, the Aztecs beat then-No. 12 UNLV 69-67 in a physical game at home a week earlier and then won 75-70 at New Mexico on Wednesday night after falling behind 10-0.
Taylor Broekhuis scored 16 for Air Force (11-6, 1-2).
"You can't go on the road in this league and shoot 1 for 18 from the 3-point line and turn the ball over as much as we did and expect to win games," Broekhuis said. "They came out and executed their game plan and got us rushing around and turning the ball over and we weren't able to flow into our offense."
The Falcons had their worst 3-point shooting percentage — 5.6 percent — since missing all 17 shots from behind the arc against Northern Colorado on Nov. 21, 2009.
San Diego State let the Falcons stick around well into the second half. Air Force trailed just 43-38 after a jumper by Justin Hammonds with 8:56 to play.Comment on this story
The Aztecs then scored eight straight points to take a 51-38 lead on Xavier Thames' layup with 4:56 to go. Tim Shelton hit a bank shot and LaBradford Franklin made two free throws and had a tip-in during the run.
"We had four possessions where we shot an airball, turned it over twice and then missed a layup," Reynolds said about that stretch.
Neither team shot well early. The Aztecs finally pulled away during a 14-8 surge that gave them a 29-21 halftime lead. With SDSU leading just 15-13, Tapley hit a 3-pointer and Franklin scored nine of the Aztecs' final 11 points of the half, including a 3-pointer.
"Nothing comes easy and rarely does it look pretty when you play Air Force," SDSU coach Steve Fisher said. "I've been here 13 years and I know that. This is a good team we played tonight. They're precise with their offense and they make it hard with their defense. I was probably like some of our fans, I got a little bit uptight with some of the things that went on, but that's playing Air Force."