USAFA, Colo. --- Bulldogs' junior guard Kevin Olekaibe found his stroke, but his 3-point barrage wasn't enough as the Fresno State men's basketball team suffered its fourth straight loss in falling 62-50 to Air Force on Wednesday night inside Clune Arena.
Olekaibe, who was the Bulldogs' leading scorer a year ago, settled in early and often from beyond the 3-point arc and finished with a team-high 18 points - tying a career-high with six 3-pointers, including several from NBA range.
"KO's never stop trying, has been working even harder over the last couple weeks and it paid off for him tonight," Fresno State second-year head coach Rodney Terry said of Olekaibe, who entered the game averaging just 7.7 points per game and moved into a reserve role."
Fresno State built a 13-10 lead over Air Force before allowing the Falcons to fly on a 13-2 run that gave Air Force a 23-15 advantage.
"We had great looks to start the ball game - rim shots, but they just didn't fall," Terry said. "We executed our offense how we wanted except for finishing enough possessions."
The Bulldogs then pounded back with an 8-2 spurt to close within a pair at 25-23, but the 'Dogs gave up a transition dunk and a first-half 30-foot buzzer-beating 3-pointer off the hands of Todd Fletcher that moved the Falcons' lead to 30-23 at halftime.
AFA extended its lead to 40-26 with the 15-2 run and upped the advantage to 15 at 48-33, which the Bulldogs cut to nine twice down the stretch, including a 56-47 deficit with 1:13 to go.
In addition to the 18 points, Olekaibe also reeled in four rebounds, and recorded a pair of assists and steals in his best all-around performance of the season.
"I was just getting shot ready and after my first two went down," Olekaibe said. "My teammates were finding me and I just stayed ready, and knocked them down. When we get back, I have to get back in the gym and get back to what I was doing before and everything will pay off."
With the win, Air Force improved to 13-6 on the season and 4-2 in Mountain West play. The Falcons were led by Fletcher's 19 points and also got 15 points from Mychael Lyons and 10 rebounds from Mike Fitzgerald.
Fresno State (7-13, 1-6 Mountain West) next plays next Wednesday when the Bulldogs host the UNLV Runnin' Rebels at the Save Mart Center an hour earlier than most night home games as tip off is scheduled for 6 p.m. PT.
"Discover Fresno State Athletics!" --- Fresno State's 4-Game Mini-Plan starts as low as $14 per game and can be purchased by calling 559-278-DOGS (Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.) or visiting www.gobulldogs.com/miniplan.
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