Men's Basketball Falls Short In Bid For Utah State Tournamnt Championship
Tournament Most Valuable Player Shawn Daniels scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Utah State to a 59-50 victory Dec. 30 in the championship game of the Gossner Foods Classic at Utah State University.
The Aggies opened the second half with a 15-5 run to race to a 49-27 lead with 11:30 remaining in the game. The Falcons hit just two of their first 15 shots during the run, despite finally getting some open shots against Utah State's 1-2-2 zone defense. The 22-point lead was the largest of the game for Utah State. Air Force suffered through a 7:27 scoring drought during the run.
The Falcons responded with a 20-6 run to cut the lead to 55-47 with 1:55 remaining in the game. Freshman Robert Todd keyed the run with 12 points on four three-pointers. The Aggies held off Air Force with four consecutive free throws in the final minute.
Utah State closed the first half on a 14-5 run to take a 34-22 halftime lead. Air Force went 4:34 without a point during the run as the Aggies built their biggest lead of the half, 31-17, with 3:36 remaining. Todd finally ended the drought with a three-pointer with 3:07 remaining. Air Force was also held without a free throw attempt in the first stanza for the second straight game. Utah State was 12 of 14 from the charity stripe.
Free throws were the difference in the game. The Aggies hit 20 of 23 while Air Force attempted just two the entire game and made both.
"Utah State is a good team and it shows that they've been together for a while," Air Force head coach Joe Scott said. "The went to that zone and we've have not seen a lot of zone this season, so we were slow to adapt to it. Once we did, we started hitting shots and got back into the game."
The championship is the seventh consecutive in the Gossner Foods Classic for the Aggies, who improve to 10-2 on the season. Air Force had its three-game winning streak snapped and falls to 4-8 on the year.
"I was very happy with the way we played in the second half. We guarded and rebounded much better. You have to give Utah State a lot of credit. They are a top 25 team in my mind."
The Falcons were led by senior Jarvis Croff's game-high 20 points. Croff was named to the all-tournament team after scoring a tournament-best 49 points. He also became the 15th Falcon in school history to surpass the 1,000-point mark for his career in the game. Todd added 18 points while Vernard Jenkins added five points and seven assists. Tom Bellairs led Air Force with eight rebounds. The Falcons finished the game hitting just 39.1 percent form the field.
Utah State also hit 39.1 percent from the field, on the same 18 of 46
shooting as Air Force. The Aggies out-rebounded Air Force, 36-22, including a
25-10 edge in the second half. Curtis Bobb added 10 points for the Aggies
while Tony Brown chipped in with nine.