Nov. 14, 2010
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) - For two teams short on size, it was no surprise the outcome of the Air Force-University of Colorado at Colorado Springs basketball game was decided behind the 3-point arc.
Michael Lyons scored 17 points and Tom Fow added 14 to lead Air Force to a 66-53 win over UCCS at Clune Arena Sunday. The Falcons connected on 8-of-19 shots from 3-point range, while the visiting Mountain Lions were just 1-of-14 from beyond the arc.
"With our lack of size, we've got to shoot the ball," Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said. "We shot 42 percent (from 3-point range), and I'll take that every game. Coming into the game, we knew they were a really good 3-point shooting team, and I thought we did a good job of taking that away."
The Falcons (1-0) ran their series record against UCCS to 7-0 in a game that counted as an exhibition for the Division II Mountain Lions, who shot 34 percent from the field for the game. The victory improved Air Force's record in home season openers to 19-8.
"Early on, we could do a bit of anything we wanted to," Reynolds said. "We executed well, shot it well and were very good in the first half defensively."
Air Force led by as many as 27, 50-23, early in the second half before UCCS mounted its comeback. The Mountain Lions used a 13-5 run to cut the lead to 62-51 with 2:16 remaining, but it was not enough.
Despite the victory, Reynolds was unhappy that his squad was unable to keep its focus after opening such a big lead.
"It was 50-23, and at that point, we showed our youthfulness and lack of maturity," Reynolds said. "I thought we became a little selfish on the defensive end and became a little selfish on the offensive end. It's hard to maintain it when you're up by that much, but mature and experienced teams will do that."
"We've been practicing since August, so we just wanted to play and beat up on other people instead of ourselves," Lyons said. "We've got more threats this year. More people can shoot, and we're better shooters and scorers overall. If we're making threes, it opens up everything."
UCCS had no trouble making shots from the free-throw line, hitting 16-of-17 from the charity stripe. Brent Jones led the Mountain Lions with 13 points - including a 7-for-7 mark from the free-throw line - while Rob Howe added 12 and J.T. Isaac 10.
"We were all excited to play today and really wanted to come out with a win to start the season off right," said Fow, one of just three Falcons seniors. "We've got to be more resilient defensively in the second half to hold our lead. We let them come back, and that's unacceptable for us. We were happy with our defense in the first half, but there are two halves."
The Falcons held the Mountain Lions to 19.2 percent shooting in the first half - including 0-for-8 from 3-point range - and led 32-15 at the break. Air Force used an early 12-1 run to grab a double-digit lead and never looked back, shooting 48 percent from the field in the first half.