By GREG MENGELT
COLORADO SPRINGS — Freshman Jake Heidbreder helped Air Force pull off a 49-47 upset victory over Utah State in the Falcons’ Mountain West Conference opener on Tuesday at Clune Arena.
Heidbreder, a freshman from Floyd Central, finished with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a blocked shot. He was 5 for 9 from the field and made three of his five 3-point attempts in the victory. He was also 1 for 2 at the foul line.
Heidbreder got the Falcons’ scoring started with a 3-pointer. Less than 4 minutes later, his second 3 gave Air Force an early 9-4 lead. His first 2-pointer, a layup, gave his team a 16-13 advantage with 6:01 to play in the first half. The Falcons and Aggies were tied at 22 after a low-scoring first half.
The offenses struggled early in the second half, but Heidbreder knocked down his third 3-pointer with 9:24 to go and Air Force led 41-33. The Aggies got within a point at 46-45 with 3 minutes left, but A.J. Walker, who led the Falcons with 16 points, and Heidbreder clinched the win with free throws.
Utah State (9-5) was led by All-American candidate Justin Bean, who finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Heidbreder and the Falcons go to Fresno State on New Years Day to face the 10-4 Bulldogs at 7 p.m.