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Aztecs Can't Escape Cold at Air Force

February 05, 1989|TIM MIMICK

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — After slogging through ice, snow and below-zero temperatures Saturday, the 3,524 fans in Cadet Field House were treated to a storm by the Air Force basketball team in its 87-69 victory over San Diego State.

Included in the flurry were six slams, a game-high 35 points from junior guard Raymond Dudley and a career-high 22 by senior center Chad Kimble. The Falcons have now won five Western Athletic Conference games in a row for the first time.

SDSU (9-11, 3-7), which has lost 23 of the past 24 WAC regular-season road games, shot 43.3% from the field (26 of 60) and 60% at the line (9 of 15). Junior guard Tony Ross, making his third start of the season, hit five three-pointers while scoring 21 points. Senior starting guard Bryan Williams sat out the game because of a one-game suspension imposed when he missed curfew Thursday.

The Falcons had early leads of 7-2, 15-4 and 19-9 and went in front for good, 28-26, on Kimble's jumper from the left wing with 4:08 left in the half.

Air Force had a 39-30 halftime lead and were in front by as many as 18 before the Aztecs started their final run. They eventually cut the deficit to 67-65 on a three-pointer with 5:46 to play by Michael Best, who scored 19 points. But Dudley hit two quick baskets, and Jeff Bowling added a rebound field goal as the Falcons pulled away again.

Air Force scored the last 12 points to put the game away, hitting 10 of their final 11 free throws.

Dudley, the nation's No. 4 scorer and tops in the WAC (27.1 average), scored 25 second-half points and nine of the final 14. He hit four three-pointers. Dudley broke the school record for points in a season (576), passing the mark of 555 set by Bob Beckel in 1956-57.

The Falcons (13-8, 5-5) now have the most victories by Air Force since the 1977-78 team went 15-10. That was the last winning basketball record in school history.

SDSU committed 13 first-half fouls; starters Best, Mitch McMullen and Shawn Bell each had three.

"That was our fourth game in 10 days, including the Hawaii trip," Coach Jim Brandenburg said. "I thought under the circumstances, our guys hung in there pretty good. We closed it down in the second half and got within two, but we missed some shots. Then the game got out of hand.

"We got careless. We got a little fatigued, and it cost us. We shut down Dudley for a while, but he rose up and hit some big-time baskets."

He added: "We were disappointed in our effort against Colorado State (a 67-47 loss Thursday in Fort Collins). I thought we bounced back here pretty good."

AFA hit 28 of 32 free-throw attempts off 24 SDSU fouls.

"Three of the five fouls on me were unnecessary," said McMullen, who had six points and five rebounds in 23 minutes before fouling out with 2:43 left. "As physical as they were getting with me, I don't think I was fouling.

"I wouldn't say Air Force has made so much improvement since we played them last month (a 64-61 SDSU victory in San Diego) as much as we haven't improved. We've just had a lot of injuries. . . . We need to get it back together."

Said Brandenburg: "I thought Mitch came back and did a better job. He's going to have to get back in some physical shape (McMullen has been bothered by Achilles tendon problems). He's gotten into real foul trouble."

San Diego State, which has lost seven of eight games since beating Air Force on Jan. 7, plays host to Brigham Young on Thursday night.

The Falcons, picked for last place in the coaches' and media's preseason WAC polls, play Thursday at Texas El Paso and Saturday afternoon at New Mexico.

"We've been keeping it exciting," Coach Reggie Minton said. "One of the things in my early season plans wasn't how to hold leads. Maybe we'll have to do that now.

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