Jan. 3, 2012
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP)- A matchup against in-state NAIA opponent Johnson & Wales was just what the Air Force men's basketball team needed to begin the new year.
The Falcons hit a season-high 13 3-pointers and had four players in double figures in an 83-53 rout of the Wildcats Tuesday night.
After a pair of tough Cable Car Classic tournament games and a close loss to national power Gonzaga in late December, Air Force (8-4) was literally limping into January with a pair of starters nicked up. A fast start at Clune Arena against Johnson & Wales (4-14) allowed the Falcons to play mostly reserves and let starters get a much-needed breather.
Leading scorer Michael Lyons (16.3 ppg) was out of commission for the third straight game with a high ankle sprain, and starting center Taylor Broekhuis was a game-time decision with an ankle issue of his own. Broekhuis started, but played just four minutes before taking a seat for the night.
It was no matter, as the Falcons' starting five set the tone early, then handed the reins to the bench the rest of the way. Air Force scored the game's first 17 points and hit its first five 3-pointers en route to a 34-3 lead and never looked back.
"It was a good game for us, and we needed that," Air Force coach Jeff Reynoldssaid. "I was really proud of the starters, because they didn't worry about the opponent and came out, were focused and showed some energy. I thought we got some really good performances out of some of the younger guys who haven't had a chance to see much playing time."
Freshman Kamryn Williams - who played at nearby Sierra High School - earned his first start in place of Lyons and had five points and three blocks, with sophomore Chase Kammererscoring a career-high 10 points in relief of Broekhuis.
"(To get my first start) felt real good, especially with my family out there," said Williams, who had nearly a dozen family members in the stands. "Coach was harping on us to get out to a good start, so it felt real good to come out and start that well. We were knocking everything down, and we were a little surprised about that.
"We came focused and were ready to play."
The Falcons played all 16 of its roster players, including eight freshmen, in the victory.
"I was a little winded, because I haven't played very much," said the 6-foot-8 Kammerer. "But it felt real good. It's always exciting to be able to play and prove yourself.
"We need Taylor (Broekhuis) for conference play, so it was nice to let him heal up."
Falcons starters Mike Fitzgerald and Todd Fletcher had 11 points apiece, with freshman Justin Hammonds also adding a career-high 10 points. Freshmen Max Yon (nine points), DeLovell Earls (seven points) and Colt Barnhill(eight rebounds) also had career nights for Air Force.
The Falcons forced 22 turnovers and held Johnson & Wales (4-14) to 30.9-percent shooting from the field. Corey Puckett led the Denver-based Wildcats with 14 points, and Chris O'Neal chipped in 13.
Air Force hit nine of its first 14 shots, while the Wildcats were just 1-for-7 to begin the game. Air Force was 10-for-17 (58.8 percent) from 3-point range in the first half and led 50-18 at the break.