Mar 062002
 
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During a timeout in the second half, Air Force beat CSU in a contest to see who could hold up a cheerleader the longest.

The Falcons didn’t have as much luck on the basketball court against the Rams.

CSU (24-5 overall, 13-2 MWC) beat Air Force for the second time in a week with the score of 79-68 to advance to the second round of the Mountain West Conference tournament in Las Vegas.

“This is why we wanted to be the No.1 seed because teams 1-7 in this tournament are pretty tough,” junior forward Ashley Augspurger said.

Senior guard Angie Gorton scored 23 points and led CSU, as the Rams watched the lead swell to as much as 26 points in the second half.

Augspurger scored 12 points and Katie Borton followed her career-high game against New Mexico by dropping 15 points last night.

“Katie Borton has finally arrived, and she is a key player for us,” head coach Tom Collen said.

Seven first half 3-pointers helped CSU jump out to a 43-32 lead at halftime. The Rams pushed the lead to 72-47 with 9:00 left in the second half.

Air Force (4-24, 0-15) fought back down the stretch, but the Falcons were never able to get the deficit down. Freshman guard Latoya Howell, sophomore forward Amoy Jackson and forward Shawna Neff each tallied 13 points to lead the Falcons.

“We didn’t want them to crawl back as many times as they did, but that’s just the nature of Air Force,” Augspurger said.

It looked as if CSU would pull away from the Falcons much the way it did the previous Wednesday at home when the Rams won 84-40. Air Force never gave up in its final game of the year, going on a 12-0 run at the six minute mark to narrow the gap.

“It’s a tough way to end the season,” Air Force head coach Ardie McInelly said. “But I am proud of my players. They were poised and they competed. We just lost to an awesome team.”

The defensive zone Air Force used for most of the game allowed the CSU perimeter players to get in a zone of their own. The Rams made 10 3-pointers in the game and shot 53 percent overall.

In the second round, CSU will face the winner of the Utah vs. UNLV game, which started right after the CSU win. The second round game will be played on Thursday, giving the team one day to prepare for either the Utes or the Rebels.

“Other coaches have had such a good look at us that you can’t even expect these teams to play the same way against us in the tournament,” Collen said.

UNLV is the host team and handed CSU its worst loss in conference play when the teams last met in Las Vegas.

“I would love to face (UNLV) again; we owe them one,” Augspurger said.

Gorton’s team-high 23 points came in her first game since being selected as first-team all-conference and receiving the defensive player of the year award for the conference. Augspurger was selected for the second-team all-conference, and Collen was named coach of the year in the MWC.

The win against Air Force extended the Rams’ winning streak to five games as they continue to play well heading into the NCAA tournament.

“I firmly believe if we win this tournament, we stand a good chance of getting a hosting seed in the NCAA tournament,” Augspurger said. n

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