Air Force Routs Navy, 69-46
By EDDIE PELLS AP Sports Writer
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) - Antoine Hood scored a season-high 23 points and Air Force played its usual stifling defense Monday night en route to a 69-46 victory over Navy.
Tim Keller drew a little further out of his early season shooting slump, going 2-for-3 from 3-point range and finishing with nine points. The Falcons (8-5) won their 19th straight home game, the fourth-longest streak in the nation.
Air Force, which has the top-ranked scoring defense in the nation, got 31 points off turnovers, hounding a young, small team from Navy (4-8) that lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Laramie Mergerson had 13 points and George O'Garro had 12 points and five rebounds for the Midshipmen, who failed in their quest to sweep the football and basketball games from their military rivals. Navy won the football game 24-21 in October.
Hood, a 6-foot-4 guard, did most of his damage down low, posting up and hitting a variety of turnarounds and scoop shots. He surpassed his previous season high of 17 points in more traditional fashion, making a 3-pointer to give the Falcons a 55-37 lead midway through the second half.
While Hood was shining inside, it was forward Jacob Burtschi handing out assists. He finished with four, three of which came in the opening minutes, all on nice passes to Nick Welch (13 points), who was cutting through the middle.
Burtschi's last assist came after he dove for a loose ball and pushed a nice outlet pass upcourt to Hood, who made a layup as part of a 16-8 run that turned a 10-point game into a runaway.
Air Force played its usual slow-down, Princeton-style offense and backed it up with good `D.' The Falcons, who allow 51.5 points a game, forced 19 Navy turnovers and Dan Nwaelele had three of his team's nine steals. Navy actually shot 50 percent, but only managed 34 attempts. Led by Hood's 8-for-10 shooting, the Falcons went 24-for-40 from the floor.
The home winning streak is impressive, especially considering where the Air Force program has been for the last four decades or so. Last year, the Falcons won 22 games and made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1962.
They haven't lost at Clune Arena since February 2003 and have a chance to continue the streak Wednesday against Texas Pan-American, before opening Mountain West Conference play at home against Colorado State.