Air Force breezed past Jackson State 76-52 on Sunday afternoon at Clune Arena, shooting 59.1% while limiting the visitors to 34.5%. Caleb Morris scored 16 points, while Lavelle Scottie and Mason Taylor added 12 apiece. The victory snaps a four-game losing streak for the Falcons (3-5), who open Mountain West play Wednesday at Wyoming.
Rare blowout victory
In a season that had seen the Falcons win just twice so far — by margins of seven and 12 points — this was a rare chance to finish a lopsided victory and empty the bench. Air Force used an extended 21-7 run to close the half with a 39-20 lead and saw that advantage grow to as large as 27 points. The Falcons outscored Jackson State 28-18 in the paint, outrebounded it 36-23 and made 15 of 18 free throws. The 52 points the Falcons allowed were a season-low.
Freshman’s role growing
Freshman Mason Taylor was among the early subs for Air Force after an injury sidelined senior LaSean Brown, and at one point the 6-foot-4 freshman from Kansas City, Mo., had 10 points in 8 minutes. Taylor logged career-highs with 12 points and 15 minutes. He did, however, have five turnovers. “He was throwing bounce passes to everyone in the gym but our team,” coach Dave Pilipovich joked. “He’s a talent.”
New starting lineup
Coach Dave Pilipovich switched up the starting lineup as the team entered on a four-game losing streak. Junior forward Keaton Van Soelen and senior guard Caleb Morris made their first starts of the season, joining sophomore A.J. Walker and seniors Lavelle Scottie and Ryan Swan.
Kinrade carries scoring load for stretch
Air Force and Jackson State were tied 6-6 in the early part of the game before sophomore Abe Kinrade scored seven consecutive points for the Falcons. The Tigers never again closed within five points. Kinrade, who has become Air Force’s top big-man reserve, finished with nine points on 4-of-4 shooting. “Abe’s energy, he goes and gets it off the glass and he gives us some stuff,” Pilipovich said.
3-point shooting continues to be the key
When Air Force has hit better than 30% from 3-point range, it is 3-0. When it hasn’t it is 0-5. The Falcons made 9 of 19 (47.4%) on Sunday. “When we see a 3, that just fuels everybody,” said Caleb Morris, who made 4-of-5 3s.
BRENT BRIGGEMAN, The Gazette