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March 8, 2017

Allen Edwards

Hayden Dalton

Justin James

Las Vegas, Nevada

Air Force - 83 Wyoming - 68

COACH ALLEN EDWARDS: Obviously, first, just all credit to Air Force. I thought they came out with some tremendous excitement for the tournament, shot the ball really, really well in the first half. And we were forced into a situation of playing catchup for pretty much the whole game. I couldn't say we were just horrible on defense, I thought they made some tough shots, as well.

But I thought their offense was very crisp. They got the ball moving and on defense I thought they had a tremendous edge, which affected our scoring on the offensive end.

But, again, giving them credit. I thought they did a tremendous job today and obviously wish them luck going forward.

Q. It was a tough start, down 25-0. What were they doing defensively? Coach said they maybe played a little bit more man today. Just what happened where you got in such a hole?
JUSTIN JAMES: It all started with turnovers. We weren't being aggressive on the offensive end. We were careless with it. It's hard to score the ball when you turn it over 30 percent of the time. Credit to them. They play really good defense. And that's just a bad play on us.

Q. Talk about beating them twice, do you feel like looking back now you might have done that at all?
HAYDEN DALTON: I just say we just, from the jump, we weren't playing as hard as them. And I can't give you a reason why. But I would say they outplayed us.

Q. How would you assess this first season with your guys' roles, with Coach Edwards? I'm sure you're disappointed now, but was this good? Learning? How would you sum this up if this is your last game of this season?
HAYDEN DALTON: It was a solid year. Love all the guys on the team. We all love each other. And that's all you can really ask for. And we're always fighting for each other night in and night out. So I can only say we're going to work hard this summer and be ready for next year.

Q. When they do get off to such a big lead, was it a feeling of shock?
JUSTIN JAMES: Obviously it's just like, wow, we're down 23-0. I mean credit to them. They came out with a lot of fire. They came out with more passion than we did. And they just came out and dominated.

Q. You talk about being pretty confident. You've had other comebacks this year, whether or not you won them, like CSU come back from a big deficit. Was it frustrating not getting the run going in the second half today?
JUSTIN JAMES: It was hard to come back when we're fouling so much. It's hard to come back when we were giving them easy free throws. But all credit to them. They came out ready to play. And they dominated today.

Q. Coach, what did they do defensively or was it more just being careless with the ball for your team, when you just couldn't score? I know Coach Pilipovich said they played a little bit more man, did you notice that or was that the difference?
COACH ALLEN EDWARDS: I don't think it was the difference. Whether they're playing their matchup zone or switching man to man. At the same time at points it could all look the same.

But our concept was to move the basketball, space them out and look to attack and play off two and find the next best play for the Pokes. And I just think we didn't do a good job of spacing once we made passes. We were cutting -- sometimes the cut didn't make sense, because we were cutting towards the basketball, when we could have opened it up a little bit more.

But I thought the best thing about the defense was just -- just how hard they were playing.

Q. You talked this year about putting 40 minutes together, and probably came out with maybe your worst 10 minutes so far in the beginning. Why do you think it is or what was the attitude then?
COACH ALLEN EDWARDS: A lot of things go through your head, just about the start. I mean you can only go to the game as a coach, as a staff, as a program, with the best you feel like you need to do to go out there and compete and play to win.

But like I told the guys at the end of the day, I'll probably self-assess it. And at the end of the day I'll put it on me. I was the head coach and I felt like that wasn't Poke basketball in the first ten minutes of the game, and through stretches of the game. Even when we tried to make our comeback or chip at the lead. We still, to me, reverted back to being careless with the basketball. And I thought we were actually a little passive on the offensive end of the floor, turning down some shots. And I felt like as the game went on and they were scoring the basketball, the goal got a little bigger for them. And they were making shots and making plays. And like J.J. said, fouling, and putting them at the free throw line didn't help, either.

But proud of this group and what we were able to do as a team. But at the same time you're disappointed in the sense of how today ended.

Q. I know it's not under your control, but you got 18 wins. Is there a possibility of some sort of postseason tournament? If so, would you welcome that or have you thought or even care about or do you know what area you're going to go now?
COACH ALLEN EDWARDS: I spoke to the guys after the game about that, because there are a few tournaments out there. But our mindset right now is just let's wait and see. But at the same time this group has been going since August and it's a young group in the sense of playing time. But we do have a lot of juniors out there.

It will be interesting to see, but at the same time if we have the opportunity I think this team still needs to continue to grow. And I know we lose Jason, and obviously Mo, who's been hurt. But I'm excited about the future of this program, as well.

Q. Just looking back on this first year as head coach, what's your initial evaluation of this season?
COACH ALLEN EDWARDS: Well, I think first off, the expectation was very high. A lot of people didn't think we would be able to do some of the things that we did, being picked second-to-last to finish in this league, and to finish 7th, I think that speaks volumes for this program.

But at the same time, you lose Jason, which is pretty much one guy. Because Mo was injured all year. So you look at what the future holds, I think that's pretty good, not only with the guys coming back, the guys that are sitting out and the recruiting class that's coming in, very optimistic that this program is going in the right direction.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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