AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Larry Eustachy wants 24th-ranked Colorado State to be better than good.
The Rams’ first-year coach had bigger goals in mind after his squad held off a gritty Air Force team 89-86 on Saturday.
“I’m talking to our team about being great — not good but great,” said Eustachy, selected The Associated Press coach of the year in 2000 while at Iowa State. “I’ve had two great teams, and I’d like for them to be my third great team. We’ve got a long way to go to do it, but I think they’re willing to do it.
“We want to be special, and they all buy into it.”
A road win over an improved Falcons team was a step in the right direction, as Air Force entered the game 11-1 at home. Colorado State (21-4, 8-2 Mountain West) trailed 23-19 in the first half, but used its size en route to a 39-23 rebounding advantage and 18 second-chance points.
Eustachy joked about what would be the difference in his team being great rather than good.
“If they (help me) hit my marks and get my salary bonuses, then they’ll be a great team,” he said. “They’ll be special. They’ll be just super.”
Dorian Green scored 22 points to lead all five starters in double figures and propel Colorado State to its sixth consecutive win.
The Rams led 82-72 with 1:05 remaining, but the Falcons (15-9, 6-5) pulled within four twice in the final minute. Michael Lyons hit a 3-pointer for Air Force with two seconds left, but Colorado State inbounded the ball without incident to close the game.
It was a quality test for the surging Rams, who face UNLV and conference-leading New Mexico this week.
“It went down to the wire and was one of the better games we’ve been in in a long time,” Eustachy said. “It took a special effort and a special game for us to beat them. It’s a special win, and they’re hard to get.”
The Rams, who have won eight of nine, got production from a number of players. Pierce Hornung had 13 points and 16 rebounds.
■ No. 19 New Mexico 60, Boise State 50 — At Albuquerque, N.M., Cameron Bairstow had 16 points and seven rebounds, and reserve Jamal Fenton hit three 3-pointers in the second half to lead the Lobos past the Broncos.
Tony Snell added 12 points, six rebounds and four assists for New Mexico (22-4, 9-2), which took a 38-29 lead after Snell hit two free throws with 13 minutes remaining.
But Boise State crept back into it, pulling to 47-46 with five minutes left following a short jumper in the paint by Derrick Marks.
The Broncos, however, failed to score on their next 11 possessions and New Mexico pulled away from the line, converting 6 of 7 foul shots during that stretch.
Marks had 19 points and seven rebounds for Boise State (16-8, 4-6).
■ Wyoming 55, Fresno State 51 — At Laramie, Wyo., Leonard Washington had 14 points and 13 rebounds as the Cowboys defeated the Bulldogs in overtime.
Derrious Gilmore, whose free throw sent the game into overtime, had 12 points, and reserve Nathan Sobey scored a career-high 10 for Wyoming (18-7, 4-7).
Kevin Foster scored 14 points and Tyler Johnson 13 to lead the Bulldogs (8-16, 2-9), who scored only two points in the final three minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime.