March 21, 2013
Senior Mike Fitzgerald scored a game-high 25 points and pulled down a team-best nine rebounds to lead the Air Force men's basketball team to a 69-65 victory over Hawai’i in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament Wednesday night at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
Fueled by its perimeter game, the Falcons took a 19-5 lead just six minutes into the game, thanks to five 3-pointers, including three by senior Kyle Green. But the Rainbows went on a 19-0 run, holding Air Force scoreless for more than seven minutes and turning a 23-10 deficit into a 29-23 lead.
Air Force nailed eight three-pointers in the first half, but UH took advantage of its size, out-scoring the Falcons 20-2 in the paint and held a 34-31 lead at the break.
The second half was nip-and-tuck throughout with the margin never more than six points. The Falcons retook the lead after hitting a trio of three-pointers early in the second half. It was a lead they would not let go of, but the game wasn't decided until the waning seconds. Trailing 67-65, UH had an opportunity to take the lead, but Hans Brereton’s three-pointer was off the mark. The 'Bows were forced to foul and Fitzgerald sealed the game with a pair of free throws with seven seconds left.
The Falcons (18-13), who posted their first postseason victory on the road in the 57-year history of the program, tied their season-high with 15 three-pointers. Fitzgerald nailed six of those while Green his four on his way to tying his career-high with 18 points and dished out a career-best six assists.
Isaac Fotu led Hawai’I (17-15) with 24 points, nine rebounds and three blocks while converting 10-of-14 from the field. Christian Standhardinger added 16 points and eight rebounds.
Air Force advances to play Weber State in Ogden, Utah on Saturday, March 23 in the second round.