The only thing detracting from Kamryn Williams’ breakout performance for Air Force was that more people weren’t there to see it.
That’s OK, if the sophomore has his way, this was only the beginning.
Williams scored 25 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and provided a lift in every possible way when the Falcons needed it in a 72-66 win over Wyoming on Tuesday night in a largely empty Clune Arena that attracted just 2,119 spectators as blowing snow swept through the area.
“Some of the guys were struggling to score,” Williams said. “I felt I might as well take that role and try my hardest to score.”
Williams’ previous career high at Air Force (16-10, 7-6 Mountain West) was 13 points. His career high at Sierra High School on the south side of Colorado Springs was just 23 points.
His contributions started immediately for the Falcons, who found themselves in a 10-4 hole early and were trailing by four points when he entered the game.
Five minutes later after Williams hit a pair of 3-pointers and converted a dunk, Air Force was up 20-15.
“Kam’s the man,” said Falcons senior Michael Lyons, who scored 14 points as he played with a badly sprained thumb. “I think he can do that pretty much every night if he just settles down. He’s a big boost of energy off bench, rebounding and scoring. Air Force is in good hands for the future.”
It wasn’t the future that was in jeopardy Wednesday. It was this game.
Wyoming (18-10, 4-10), which shot just 5-of-28 from 3-point range in a home loss to the Falcons a month ago, hit 10-of-30 from 3-point range and stayed in a game that included seven ties and 10 lead changes.
Nathan Sobey nearly matched Williams with 22 points off the bench on 7-of-7 shooting. Leonard Washington scored 15 points and added 13 rebounds for the Cowboys in his return from an injury. He was also a central figure in a near skirmish during the postgame handshake and was escorted off the court by his coaches.
Wyoming led by a point at halftime, but while Air Force shot 59.1 percent in the second half the Cowboys shot 32.1 percent and hit just one field goal over the final seven minutes.
"That was one of the most embarrassing defensive performances that I've been a part of in 40 years as a head coach or an assistant," Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said. "I thought the game was won and lost on that end of the floor.
"I don't want to point fingers, but I will compliment (Air Force's) attack."
A major part of that attack was Air Force’s ability – led by Williams, Lyons and DeLovell Earls, who finished with 12 points – to put the ball on the floor and drive at the interior of the Wyoming defense. The Falcons managed 30 points in the paint while shooting just 3-of-18 from 3-point range.
“I think the 17 percent (from 3-point range) maybe says a lot about us being leg weary,” coach Dave Pilipovich said.
And that’s again where Williams came in. His energy in all facets was critical. He had three assists, grabbed three offensive rebounds among his 10 and blocked a shot from behind with 2 minutes remaining that resulted in Wyoming being forced into a shot-clock violation when it was very much a part of the game.
“I look up to these seniors,” Williams said. “I know they’re going to be gone soon, so I’m trying – me and (Earls) are trying – to fill the roles with scoring and defense and everything.”