Jan. 9, 2012
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP)- It wasn't easy or pretty Monday night, but Air Force men's basketball team will enter Mountain West Conference play riding a four-game winning streak.
Todd Fletcher led four Air Force players in double figures with 15 points, and freshman Kamryn Williamshad his first career double-double to lead the Falcons to a 67-50 victory over Texas-Pan American.
Williams tied his career high with 11 points and grabbed a career-best 10 rebounds. Air Force (10-4) survived another slow start, trailing by seven in the first half against the Broncs (5-14).
"It's tough because we've played three games back-to-back-to-back with no days off, so it's tough to always have a lot of energy," said Fletcher, who has had nine assists and no turnovers in his last three games.
Fletcher hit a 3-pointer 32 seconds into the second half to give Air Force a 28-27 lead, which it never relinquished. The Falcons used a 10-0 run at the 11-minute mark to turn a two-possession lead into a double-digit advantage.
"I knew at the half we all had to change, and I kind of brought it upon myself to get our team going and hit a few shots because I knew they would thrive off that," Fletcher said.
Part of that run was a dunk at the 10:41 mark by Williams, who soared to grab a Fletcher miss off the glass and brought the crowd to its feet with the slam. That gave Air Force a 49-42 lead and a boost of energy.
"(The difference) was the energy, and I think that dunk is what brought it," said Williams, who starred at nearby Sierra High School . "I'm the energy guy, and I try to bring as much energy to the team as I can."
Brandon Provostled the Broncs with a game-high 17 points.
Air Force had a nightmarish first half, hitting 2 of 11 3-pointers and missing five layups and free throws. Texas-Pan American started 5-for-6 from beyond the arc, but led just 27-25 at the break.
"We missed five layups, five free throws, and they shot 47 percent (from the field), so we were fortunate to be in the game," Air Force coach Jeff Reynoldssaid. "(At halftime), we told them, `You've done some really good things, but we need to be focused and finish plays.'"
The Falcons hit six of their first eight shots in the second half, with Fletcher scoring eight points during that stretch. Air Force improved its execution and began imposing its will at the 11-minute mark, using a 10-0 run to turn a two-possession lead into a double-digit advantage.
"Our guys hung in there, and I thought Kam Williams' energy was contagious," Reynolds said. "Then, we just got on a roll. I'm pleased with the patience, resiliency and mental toughness we had tonight."
Air Force begins conference play Saturday at Boise State and Fletcher said he's ready for the increased level of competition.
"I'm so excited," Fletcher said. "I think we're well-prepared for conference, and I'm excited to see where we go with it."
Reynolds said his squad - especially without leading scorer Michael Lyons'16.3 points per game - is still searching for the right chemistry and that he will see how battle-tested his heralded freshman class is this weekend.
"We'll see," Reynolds said. "It's almost like starting a second season, and that's how we're trying to approach it.
"When we came back home (for the homestand), we talked as a team about wanting to be 10-4 when we started conference play. I tip my hat to the guys, because they accomplished the mission."