9:05 PM ET, February 21, 2005
Clune Arena, Colorado Springs, Colorado
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- For more than 10½ strange and painful minutes, the string of futility played out. Layups, 3-pointers, free throws -- Brigham Young couldn't get anything to drop."It was," as Air Force guard Antoine Hood put it, "not a good night to be a Cougar."The result for BYU: A 19-0 deficit en route to a 70-39 loss to Hood and the Falcons on Monday night, an unmistakable low point to a season that has been full of them for the struggling Cougars."The most embarrassing 40 minutes of basketball I've been involved with since I've been at BYU," said coach Steve Cleveland, in his eighth season at the school.Hood scored 14 points to help the Falcons (16-10, 7-4 Mountain West) recover in a big way, two days after they had their 24-game home winning streak snapped by No. 12 Utah.The Cougars (9-18, 3-9), meanwhile, played awfully at the beginning and didn't get much better as the night progressed. The result was the most lopsided conference victory ever for Air Force in its not-so-glorious half century of basketball."I think we were up 8-0 and I was like `Whoa, that's a good start," Air Force coach Chris Mooney said. "Then it was 10 minutes before they scored, and I thought maybe this is more than a good start."Fielding a young lineup missing two regulars, Cleveland tried almost every combination during the scoreless string, which lasted 10 minutes, 40 seconds, to be exact.Substitutes came in, then sat back down. Two media timeouts passed, along with two more called by BYU.About midway through the drought, Brock Reichner picked up the ball around midcourt and had an unimpeded path to the basket. Air Force's Caleb Buchanan caught up, though, and blocked the shot, marking BYU's ninth straight miss to start the game."We tried six, seven, eight different things, none of which worked," Cleveland said. "And that's hard on the psyche of a young man. ... It was something we couldn't get a grasp on."By the time BYU finally scored, the Cougars had attempted 10 shots, had four of them blocked, gone 0-for-2 from the free-throw line, committed four turnovers and had the ball stolen three times.It was Austin Ainge -- the son of former Cougars star Danny Ainge -- who put a merciful end to the ugliness, hitting a shot from three feet behind the top of the 3-point arc to make the score 19-3.More than six minutes later, with the crowd at Clune Arena shouting "double digits," Chris Miles finally got the Cougars there by making a layup.By halftime, it was 37-13. The 13 points were the least Air Force had ever allowed in a half in conference play, and surpassed BYU's all-time record for scoring futility in a half (1980 and 1982 against Wyoming -- before the shot-clock came to college hoops) by just one point."You can't show any mercy in a situation like that," Hood said.And no, Air Force didn't feel bad about any of this.For decades, the Falcons had been doormats to BYU and pretty much everyone else in the MWC, and the Western Athletic Conference before that. Just two years ago, BYU ran to a 30-10 halftime lead over Air Force en route to a 65-33 victory. The Cougars never let up that evening."I remember that game pretty well," senior guard Tim Keller said. "They didn't let up. It's a respect thing for each team. Every man on the court is going to play his hardest. They did it my sophomore year and we did it tonight."Indeed, things have changed drastically at Air Force over the last two seasons. The Falcons made their first appearance in the NCAA tournament in 42 years last season.But without winning the conference tournament next month, a repeat this season seems unlikely, especially after last weekend's loss to Utah, which Air Force dearly needed to increase its RPI ranking of 104."That game's obviously going to hurt," Keller said. "It was a different mindset out there tonight, and I liked it."This win did guarantee the Falcons of a second straight winning record, though -- a feat not accomplished since 1975-76 -- and kept the 20-win mark within reach.Dan Nwaelele scored 11 points and Nick Welch had 10, as Mooney cleared his entire bench, playing 17 players.Sam Burgess had nine points to lead BYU, which uncharacteristically got blown out. This was only the second of 12 conference games this season in which the Cougars haven't led or been tied at some point in the second half."In every game, I felt we competed," Cleveland said, "and tonight, we didn't compete."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||14-50 (.280)||27-48 (.563)|
|3P Made-Attempted||6-22 (.273)||7-19 (.368)|
|FT Made-Attempted||5-8 (.625)||9-12 (.750)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||13 (0/0)||10 (0/0)|