11:00 PM ET, January 5, 2006
Clune Arena, Colorado Springs, Colorado
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Some lessons on the basketball court are more enjoyable to learn than others, such as how to handle a big lead against a good opponent you know will make a run of its own.Air Force passed such an exam Thursday night when Antoine Hood scored 22 points and Dan Nwaelele got 20 in leading the Falcons to their 11th straight win, a 75-59 rout of Brigham Young in their Mountain West Conference opener.The Falcons built an early 26-point lead that BYU never could cut below 12 in the second half."We came out on fire, that gave us a lead we didn't expect," said Jacob Burtschi, who scored 14 points and set the tone for the blowout by sinking his first five shots, two of them from three-point range.Under first-year coach Jeff Bzdelik, Air Force (13-1) is off to its best start in school history and won for the 34th time in its last 35 games at Clune Arena. Brigham Young, also led by a new coach in Dave Rose, fell to 8-4.Nobody expected the Falcons to jump out to such a big lead and Bzdelik certainly didn't expect the lead to stay so big for very long."BYU's a great basketball team," he said. "They're good. They are really good and we knew they'd come back. They are too talented for us to have that kind of lead and sustain it. So, we knew they'd come back and yeah, there's always going to be rough spots. But you can't play a perfect game and you try to limit as many of those rough spots as possible."In other words, you're striving for perfection, but it's not going to be there."Hood said playing with a big lead against a good team is never easy."It's challenging because that mentality a lot of teams have trouble with, no matter what level of basketball you're playing," Hood said. "When a team that's good comes in and they're not on all cylinders like they usually are, you're never going to just put them away because you know they're going to just keep coming at you, keep coming at you."Every time the Cougars made a run, the Falcons had an answer, especially from Nwaelele, who scored 17 of his 20 points after halftime.Burtschi scored 12 of his 14 before halftime."My goodness gracious, they played good from the start," Rose said.So well that the Cougars couldn't make up for it even with so much time left."We didn't have enough guys playing well," Rose said. "In earlier games, we've had eight, nine playing well. Tonight, only a handful. A handful was not enough to get back in this one and win."BYU got 16 points and 11 rebounds from Keena Young off the bench and 13 points from starter Brock Reichner but not much else from the rest of its roster in its lowest-scoring game of the season.The Cougars averaged nearly 79 points in their non-conference schedule but ran into trouble against Air Force, which has the stingiest defense in the country, allowing an average of 52.3 points.The Falcons led 42-23 at halftime and it was only that close because the Cougars scored the last seven points, including a 3-pointer by Young and a buzzer-beater by Rashaun Broadus.Led by Burtschi, the Falcons raced out to a 32-11 lead by sinking 12 of their first 18 shots and going 7-for-11 from beyond the arc. Air Force inevitably cooled off, but BYU couldn't capitalize because the Cougars' own shooting didn't get any better. They shot just 36 percent from the field to Air Force's 56 percent.The Cougars opened the second half with an 8-2 run with Burtschi and Nwaelele both on the Falcons' bench with three fouls, pulling to 44-31. Tim Anderson's 3-pointer ended the drought for Air Force, and a Hood breakaway made it 49-31. Hood's 3-pointer with eight minutes left gave the Falcons a 60-41 lead.BYU had one run left, pulling to 63-51 on Mike Rose's 3-pointer with 5:54 remaining. Hood, however, sank two free throws and fed Burtschi for an easy bucket and Nwaelele's 3-pointer made it 70-53."We got our composure too late to overcome their great start," Dave Rose said.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||24-59 (.407)||24-46 (.522)|
|3P Made-Attempted||5-17 (.294)||11-25 (.440)|
|FT Made-Attempted||6-11 (.545)||16-22 (.727)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||20 (0/0)||15 (0/0)|