Air Force beats Central Connecticut State in overtime, 63-56
Lamoni Yazzie scored a career-high 20 points to lead a balanced attack as Air Force defeated Central Connecticut State, 63-56, in overtime Tuesday night to snap a seven-game losing streak.
The Falcons played two very different halves of basketball. Following one of the toughest of the season in the first half, the team played one of its best in the second stanza.
Air Force recorded season lows for a half in points (14), rebounds (seven) and field goal percentage (23.5) while going through an 8:47 drought in the first half and falling behind 29-14 at the half.
After spotting Central Connecticut State the first five points of the second half to give the Blue Devils their biggest lead of the game, 34-14, with 19:28 left, the Falcons exploded. Air Force scored the next 13 points and 23 of 30 to cut the lead to four points, 41-37, with 8:02 remaining. Yazzie and sophomore forward Tom Bellairs keyed the run with eight and six points, respectively.
The Falcons took their first lead of the game, 48-47, with 2:30 remaining on the a three-pointer by Jarvis Croff. Robert Todd followed with a basket and free throw with 1:40 remaining to up the lead to 51-47. CCSU's last chance to win the game in regulation fell short when Lee Guinn missed one of two free throws with 3.2 seconds left. Croff's long three-point try bounced away as time expired to force the overtime.
The overtime was all Air Force. The Falcons hit three three-pointers to take a commanding 60-53 lead with 1:52 remaining then hit three of four free throws in the final 45 seconds.
The Falcons defense in the second half was the difference. Air Force held CCSU to one field goal in the final 8:02 of regulation and all of overtime. The Falcons' offense was running to near perfection. Of the 15 second half and overtime field goals by Air Force, eight were three-pointers and seven were layups.
"We're a balanced team," Air Force head coach Joe Scott said. "It's not one or two guys, its' five. When you do that you put a lot of pressure on the opponent's defense and that's what we did in the second half. I was not discouraged about our first half, because we were playing with great effort. I told the guys at halftime that we're jinxed. The only way to overcome it is work twice as hard. You could see it in our guy's eyes tonight. Winning is about character and doing the tough things and we're getting better every game at it."
The Falcons finished the game shooting 46.3 percent from the field, including 40.7 percent from three-point range. The team hit 63.2 percent in the second half while holding CCSU to a 26.3 clip. The Blue Devils finished the game at 38.5 percent. The Falcons also out-rebounded CCSU, 28-25, including a 21-11 edge in the second half.
Croff added 13 points for Air Force while Bellairs chipped in with eight
points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Todd added 12 points while Vernard
Jenkins had six points and a game-high eight assists. CCSU was led by
Corsley Edwards' 17 points. John Tice added 14 and Dean Walker 13. The
Falcons improved to 2-7 with the win while CCSU falls to 5-4.