The shot had no chance.

With the shot clock down to nearly zero, San Diego State guard Xavier Thames launched a rushed and desperate 3-pointer that was wide when it left his fingers. The ball dropped left of the rim and an Air Force rebound would give the Falcons a chance to get to within two points with two minutes left.

That didn’t happen. Winston Shepard was there to save the possession. There to save the game, too.

Shepard scooped up Thames’ shot as it bounced off the floor, rose to make a layup and was fouled. The sophomore forward converted the free throw and the Aztecs had the breathing room they needed to ultimately stave off Air Force 64-56 on Saturday night at Viejas Arena.

Up by only one point at the half, the fifth-ranked Aztecs (22-2 overall, 11-1 in the Mountain West) got the lift from Shepard they needed against an Air Force team (10-14, 4-9) that now has lost six of its last seven.

Shepard scored 14 of his team-leading 16 points in the final 7 minutes, 14 seconds of the game. He did much of the heavy lifting, scoring seven points in a 9-0 second-half run by the Aztecs that gave them their largest lead, 53-40, with 5:20 left.

The run started with Shepard’s 3-pointer, followed by his slam dunk one minute later and two converted free throws a minute after that. Shepard went to the foul line nine times, making seven – a strong effort considering he was converting 65 percent of his free throws going into the game.

Shepard also pulled down nine rebounds – seven in the second half – to be one off his career high.

“I was having a tough night up to that point,” Shepard said of the first two-thirds of the game. “I have to thank my teammates, X Thames and Coach Fish (Steve Fisher) ... they stuck with me, had encouraging words for me."