Falcons Too Much For Rams

Feb 182007
Authors: Matthew Pucak

Clune Arena is not an easy place to play, as no one has gone to the Air Force Academy and come away with a win in 30 games, the longest current streak in NCAA basketball.

Despite losing 67-58 to the Falcons Saturday, the CSU Rams can take solace in the fact that they made it difficult on their rivals, even causing Jeff Bzdelik, Air Force’s head coach, to liken the game to a root canal.

The Rams missed several lay-ups and short jumpers early in the game, failing to take advantage of a slow start by the No. 17 Falcons, and saw Air Force jump to an eight-point at halftime that stretched to as many as 15 points in the second half.

Despite being behind, the Rams didn’t give in, but every time the Rams seemed to cut the Falcons lead to single digits, Air Force would step up and drain a 3-pointer.

“It was a hard fought game,” said Rams head coach Dale Layer, who saw his team drop their sixth game of their last seven. “Air Force is very experienced and they have great poise, every time we made a run, they answered with a three,”

The Falcons, after a 3-12 start from 3-point land in the first, rebounded in the second half to hit 7-12 threes, which they needed to offset Jason Smith of the Rams, who had game-highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds.

“We knew we had to prepare for a team that shoots threes, and we needed to guard it right, but we didn’t do so well.” said Ram guard Stephan Gilling. “Our zone left people open, and we need to fix it by having better communication.”

In his own right, Gilling added three 3-pointers, accounting for all his points on the day. The Rams were led by forward Jason Smith, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the contest, and guard Tyler Smith, who chipped in 10 points.

After taking a 28-20 lead into the half, the Falcons’ Dan Nwaelele open the second half by hitting two 3-point shots, giving the Falcons a 14-point lead. Nwaelele, Jacob Burtschi, and Matt McGraw all then hit 3-pointers down the stretch, all just after the Rams had cut the Falcon lead to single-digits.

Nwaelele led four Air Force players in double-digits in scoring with 18 points. Mcgraw added 15 points, while Burtschi and Tim Anderson each had 10.

In the end, it was Air Force’s ability to end CSU’s runs early that made the difference.

“They are a really good team, and we dug a hole that we couldn’t get out of,” said Jason Smith.

Basketball beat writer Matthew Pucak can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

Box score


Smith, J. 34 9-12 10 2 22

Creason 18 1-2 2 0 2

Lewis 37 2-10 4 7 5

Smith, T. 29 3-6 1 1 10

Denson 18 0-1 2 0 0

Kilby 21 1-3 3 0 4

Gilling 30 3-7 2 0 9

Robinson 13 1-2 1 0 6

Surratt 1 0-0 0 0 0


Burtschi 38 4-8 6 1 10

Nwaelele 36 5-10 2 2 18

Welch 28 3-7 1 2 9

McCraw 37 3-7 3 4 15

Anderson 38 3-6 5 4 10

Frye 16 1-4 5 1 3

Henke 4 0-1 1 0 0

Johnson 1 1-1 0 0 2

Teets 1 0-1 0 0 0

Hood 1 0-0 0 0 0

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