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Air Force guard Camden Vander Zwaag shoots the ball during a game against DU on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

Air Force basketball shot 32 percent in a sluggish return after a 11-day break.

The Falcons lost 68-46 at Arkansas State, as they managed to stay in the game for about 25 minutes before a second 11-0 run from the Red Wolves turned this into a blowout.

Arkansas State did most of its damage on the interior, where forward Norchad Omier scored 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting with 16 rebounds. He helped the Red Wolves lead 38-20 in points in the paint.

Arkansas State’s 68 points marked the most given up by Air Force this season.

“He’s (Omier) a big, strong physical guy, just like a lot of the big men in our league, but at the end of the day we’ve got to fight back and get physical with him,” said Air Force junior Camden Vander Zwaag in a postgame interview with KVOR 740 AM’s Jim Arthur.

Vander Zwaag led Air Force with eight points off the bench, while he also added three steals and three assists.

The Falcons, who last played Dec. 8 in a loss at Montana, played from behind throughout the game. They trailed 10-3, closed to within a point, then trailed 23-11 after Arkansas State scored 11 straight.

The deficit grew to as large as 17 in the first half, but the Falcons used six straight points from Joseph Octave to close to within seven points with possession with 16 minutes remaining. A miss from Air Force followed by a rebound from Omier led to a transition layup and the Red Wolves (8-3) poured it on from there, leading by as many as 28 points at one point.

Air Force had seven points from Octave and freshman guard Ethan Taylor, while Lucas Moerman had six points and six rebounds.

The Falcons shot 32 percent in both halves.

The loss drops Air Force (7-3) to 1-2 in true road games. It plays one more road contest – at Tarleton State on Tuesday – before opening Mountain West action at home against Utah State on Dec. 29.

“I expected a little bit of this today,” Falcons coach Joe Scott told Arthur. “They were a good basketball team, they played well. I want to see how we respond on Tuesday.”

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