Pokes' Hot Start Gives Way to Tough Loss

The Cowboys took a big step backward in the Mountain West Conference standings Saturday, losing to Air Force in a game that may end up spelling "pigtail" troubles for the Pokes down the road…

They came out of the gate hot, and they finished strong.

But somewhere in between, the Cowboys stumbled enough to give Air Force a decided advantage in the Mountain West Conference standings.

Andrew Henke scored a career-high 19 points and dished out four assists to help the Falcons hold off a late Wyoming rally for a 72-66 victory on Saturday.

The Cowboys put together a 21-8 run over the final four and a half minutes of the game, but it wasn't enough to overcome a late 19-point Air Force lead.

The Pokes could have climbed into a tie for the league's sixth spot; instead they remain just one position out of last place, falling two games back of the Falcons and seriously jeopardizing their chances of avoiding the Mountain West Conference tournament's "play-in" game next month. TCU (12-11 overall, 4-6 MWC), who lost to the Cowboys by 18 points on Wednesday, can move into a tie with Air Force with a win over New Mexico tonight.

For most of the first half, it appeared the Cowboys had carried their midweek good fortune with them to Colorado Springs. Brandon Ewing hit two 3-pointers in the early going, and Eric Platt added two more as Wyoming jumped out to a 25-13 lead with 6:44 left in the first half.

The Pokes couldn't find a way to stop Henke, however; the 6-foot-6 forward hit three 3-pointers in a five-and-a-half-minute stretch, leading a Falcon rally that culminated in a bucket from Anwar Johnson in the final minute of the period to give Air Force a 32-31 halftime lead.

The Cowboys led for less than a minute in the second half after Tyson Johnson converted a pair of early free throws to give the Pokes a 33-32 advantage. Air Force's Evan Washington quickly knocked in a bucket on the other end to recapture the lead and spark a giant Falcon surge. Henke led the way, driving past the slower Cowboy big men for assists and easy layups. He scored six points during a 32-12 Air Force run that gave the Falcons a commanding 64-45 lead with less than five minutes to play.

Ewing scored seven points in the final three and a half minutes, and Platt added his third 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining, but it was too little, too late for the Cowboys, who fell to 10-14 overall and 3-8 in the Mountain West Conference.

Ewing finished with 18 points, Johnson added 12, and Platt and Brad Jones each scored 11.

Washington had 12 points for Air Force (13-11, 5-6), and Johnson chipped in 11, including five crucial free throws down the stretch.

The Cowboys will be back at home to face San Diego State on Tuesday night.

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