Falcons Rally to Top Sam Houston State, 76-65

Dec. 29, 2010

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Derek Brooks led Air Force with career-highs of 17 points and eight rebounds and the Falcons made their last 13 free throws in a 76-65 victory over Sam Houston State Tuesday night in El Paso, Texas to win their opening game of the 2010 Sun Bowl Invitational. The Falcons, who posted their third victory of the season against a 2010 NCAA Tournament team, take on UTEP on Wednesday beginning at 7:30 p.m. The Miners defeated Western New Mexico, 87-58, on Tuesday.

Tom Fow added 15 points and Todd Fletcher added 12 for Air Force, which played without two of its top three scorers, center Taylor Broekhuis (concussion) and guard Michael Lyons (knee). Sophomore Adam Brakeville made his first career start and scored the first two points of his career for the first basket of the game. Sophomore Zach Bohannon saw his first action of the season after undergoing surgery on his right thumb in October.

Air Force scored the first five points and took a 7-4 lead with a jumper from Fletcher. Sam Houston State then put together a 20-0 run over the next 5:20 to take a 24-7 lead with 11:25 left in the first half and took its biggest lead at 27-9 after a three-pointer by Nafis Richardson.

Air Force responded by outscoring the Bearkats 21-12 behind 10 points from Fletcher the rest of the half. Shawn Hempsey, who tied his career-high with nine points and added career-bests of four rebounds and four assists, made an uncontested layup at the buzzer following a steal by Taylor Stewart to allow the Falcons to trail by only eight, 36-28, at halftime.

The Falcons (8-3) opened the second half with a 12-2 run, sparked by six points from Brooks, to take a 40-38 lead with 15 minutes remaining. SHSU then scored eight of the next 10 points to take a 46-42 advantage, but Air Force responded with a 16-5 run and a three-pointer by Brooks put the Falcons ahead 58-51 with five minutes left. The Bearkats (6-5) cut the lead to five twice after that, but the Falcons went 10-for-10 from the line, two each by five different players, in the final four minutes to capture the victory.

Air Force shot 55.6 percent from the field, compared to just 41.2 percent for the Bearkats. Gilberto Clavell led Sam Houston State with a game-high 24 points, followed by Josten Crow with 14.

The Falcons' rally from 18 points down ties the largest under Jeff Reynolds, equaling an 18-point deficit in a 52-47 overtime win against Radford at Clune Arena on Nov. 19, 2007.



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