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Too many fouls, too few rebounds doom Air Force in home loss to Colorado State

February 8, 2014 Updated: February 8, 2014 at 8:55 pm
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photo - Air Force forward Kamryn Williams collides with Colorado State forward J.J. Avila, left, and guard Dwight Smith while going up for a shot during the first half Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, at Clune Arena at Air Force Academy, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Air Force forward Kamryn Williams collides with Colorado State forward J.J. Avila, left, and guard Dwight Smith while going up for a shot during the first half Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, at Clune Arena at Air Force Academy, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

The slugfest he had just witnessed brought enough problems for his team, Dave Pilipovich wasn't about to compound the issues by running his mouth.

"I'll get in trouble," the Air Force coach cautioned.

The numbers did all the talking that was necessary.

Colorado State scored 17 more points at the free-throw line than Air Force and won 68-56 on Saturday in a game at Clune Arena that was tied with 3:40 remaining.

The Rams went 25 of 33 at the line compared to 8 of 12 for the Falcons. Air Force committed 28 fouls, compared to 17 for CSU. The home crowd certainly voiced its displeasure for the officiating crew, but Pilipovich insisted on staying away from such talk and advised his players to do the same.

"We fouled too much," he said. "We put them on the free-throw line too much. We've got to guard without grabbing them.

"We sent them to the free-throw line 33 times, that's a lot."

The Falcons (9-13, 3-8 Mountain West), who have now lost eight of nine, could not afford the disparity at the line in a game in which they were outrebounded 47-17. The Rams under coach Larry Eustachy are known for their tenacity on the boards, but this was extreme. Colorado State (14-10, 5-6) had more offensive boards (21) than Air Force had total rebounds, and that translated into a 20-6 edge in second-chance points.

"They've got wide bodies, they cover a lot of space," said Air Force guard Tre' Coggins, who scored a team-high 19 points in his return from a three-game suspension.

When a shot went up, particularly on their offensive end, the Rams had bodies flying toward the rim.

"It's pretty chaotic," said Chase Kammerer, who started at center for the second straight game for Air Force and grabbed four rebounds - one off the team lead - before fouling out. "They're pretty physical, a big team. We don't really have anybody with that size in practice to go against, so it's tough to replicate."

The biggest of those players, J.J. Avila, finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Air Force had led by 10 points early in the first half as it was able to consistently get to the rim against Colorado State's man-to-man defense, but that cushion was cut to three points at halftime. Avila, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound (at least) transfer from Navy, scored eight straight points as the Rams finally caught Air Force early in the second half.

The score was tied on several occasions after that, with the final tie coming at 52-52 inside of four minutes.

Jon Octeus hit a pair of 3-pointers, added two free throws and the Rams finally pulled away. Octeus finished with 18 points and went 10 of 11 from the line.

Air Force helped the Rams' cause with a late turnover and a missed front end of a one-on-one as the game turned.

"This win means a lot to our team," Eustachy said. "You just don't come in here and beat them. They are not a lay-down team."

Kamryn Williams had 13 points and Max Yon added 11 for Air Force.

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