Air Force finds a way to win despite struggles

By Brent Briggeman Updated: December 14, 2013 at 6:33 pm • Published: December 14, 2013 | 6:30 pm 0

Air Force shot the ball poorly, failed to take solid care of the basketball and really, aside from rebounding, didn't do anything particularly well.

The Falcons still won by 10 against a Division I foe.

If anything speaks to the progress made through the final home game of the non-conference season, it's this 62-52 victory over UC Riverside on Saturday afternoon.

"That's how I look at it is that we've grown a lot, definitely," said point guard Tre' Coggins, who scored a game-high 17 points and committed just one turnover while grabbing three steals. "The way we play offensively usually affects us defensively, but tonight we held it together defensively even with all that."

The Falcons, who shot 29 percent, hadn't won a game while shooting under 30 percent since beating Georgia Tech 54-46 on Dec. 28, 2005 at World Arena.

They started the game 2 of 13 and committed four early turnovers, yet they emerged from that stretch still tied.

Part of that is attributed to a less-than-stellar UC Riverside team - picked last in the Big West - and its 2-of-9 start from the free-throw line. But this is an Air Force team picked second-to-last in the Mountain West that was dominated by Northern Colorado in an early scrimmage and defeated by Division II Regis in an exhibition.

"We've come a long ways as a team," said freshman Hayden Graham, who scored nine points and tied for the team-high with eight rebounds. "We're growing every day in practice and, like coach always tells us, a win's a win."

Air Force (6-4) helped itself by hitting 20 of 25 free throws, while Riverside made just 13 of 23.

The saving grace for the Falcons on Saturday, however, came in their effort on the glass. Despite being undersized, Air Force outrebounded the Highlanders 46-35 and turned 15 offensive rebounds into a 13-4 advantage in second-chance points.

In a 10-point game, that was the difference.

"We may not get 15 offensive rebounds in 18 conference games," Falcons coach Dave Pilipovich said.

Coggins referred to the offensive rebounds as an effort stat, so it was fitting that Max Yon led the way. The junior scored 10 points, had seven boards (four on the offensive end) and had four assists, a block and a steal.

"He gave us some energy plays," Pilipovich said. 'He kept the ball alive for us and did some good things."

Air Force welcomed back junior captain Kamryn Williams from a hamstring injury that had cost him all but two games. Williams provided eight points and five rebounds.

"It definitely made us better, especially defensively," Coggins said of Williams' return, "which is how we won this game."

UC Riverside (3-5) was paced by 14 points and 12 rebounds from Taylor Johns, though he committed six of the team's 20 turnovers.

Air Force will not practice again until Wednesday as it prepares for a game on Dec.?21 at UC Davis. After that comes another break until the 26th, at which point the focus turns to the Jan.?1 conference opener against Utah State.

Comment Policy
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
APR
24
APR
25
APR
26
APR
27
APR
28
APR
29
APR
30
MAY
1
MAY
2
MAY
3
MAY
4
MAY
5
MAY
6
MAY
7
Advertisement