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Lenny Ignelzi, Associated Press
San Diego State coach Steve Fisher gets animated during his teams' game against Air Force during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 in San Diego.

SAN DIEGO — There was a good reason why the No. 16 San Diego State Aztecs looked sluggish against the Air Force Falcons.

Chase Tapley scored 16 points and Jamaal Franklin had 14 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 16 San Diego State beat Air Force 57-44 Saturday night for 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.

"''When you're an uptempo team like us, it's a little bit frustrating guarding a team like that," Tapley said. "I mean, they're really persistent with their offense; backdooring, cutting, curling, flaring, it's just tough to guard. You have to maintain for maybe the whole 35 seconds on the shot clock. And today we did a bad job of defensive rebounding. They got the offensive rebound and they had it another time, so it was like another minute.

"You just really focus on the concept of playing Air Force defense. I think we did a great job of that but we need to work on the defensive rebounding concept."

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.

"Nothing comes easy and rarely does it look pretty when you play Air Force," 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."

Taylor Broekhuis scored 16 for Air Force (11-6, 1-2).

The Falcons, who came in averaging 34.9 percent on 3-pointers, missed their first 12 shots from behind the arc before Broekhuis finally made one. Overall, Air Force was a season-low 1 for 18 from 3-point range.

"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.

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 air ball, turned it over twice and then missed a layup," Air Force coach Jeff 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.