UT Pan American 58

(5-4, 1-4 away)

Air Force 70

(9-1, 6-0 home)

    9:00 PM ET, December 6, 2006

    Clune Arena, Colorado Springs, Colorado

    1 2 T
    UTPA 32 2658
    AFA 37 3370

    Top Performers

    UT Pan American: B. Burrell 21 Pts, 3 Reb, 1 Stl

    Air Force: D. Nwaelele 26 Pts, 5 Reb, 1 Stl

    Air Force uses 13-3 run to fight off Pan American  

    AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- The Air Force Falcons (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today) were due for a letdown.

    No longer facing Duke, Texas Tech or Wake Forest, instead they had spunky Texas-Pan American at comfy Clune Arena.

    They didn't have floor leader Matt McCraw (ankle) or a sense of urgency until the final three minutes, when they used a 13-3 run to turn back the Broncs 70-58.

    "We have to play with a great sense of urgency from start to finish. If we don't, we're just an average team," said coach Jeff Bzdelik, whose team is 9-1 for the second straight season. "For whatever reason, our energy has been up and down and all around."

    Actually, he thinks he knows why: the Falcons are getting too comfortable at home and a little stressed out for finals week.

    "This is a tough, tough time at the academy," Bzdelik said.

    Plus, "these teams are good. And they come in here and we might be the biggest game on their schedule," Bzdelik said. "So, we need to understand all that and react better."

    Nick Welch said the absence of McCraw, who badly sprained an ankle in practice this week, had a lot to do with the Falcons' inability to put the Broncs away early.

    "With Matt out of the lineup, we went with a little different look on defense and we haven't practiced it too much and maybe we were just kind of confused from the start there," Welch said. "A win's a win. That's what we came away with and it wasn't pretty by any means. But like coach told us in the locker room, once we picked up our defensive intensity, they couldn't hang with us.

    "So, if we can play that way for 40 minutes, there's not many teams that can play with us."

    Dan Nwaelele played that way for 40 minutes, scoring 26 points, including 10 after the Broncs (5-4) had rallied from a 10-point deficit to tie it at 47. He also helped cool off the Broncs' best player, Brian Burrell, who finished with 21 points.

    "I have a lot of confidence and my teammates have confidence in me," Nwaelele said.

    And why not? In his last two games, Nwaelele is 14-of-16 from the floor, 8-of-9 from beyond the arc and 16-of-16 from the stripe for back-to-back 26-point performances.

    Nwaelele had five 3-pointers Wednesday night and Welch added three, including one with 1:52 left that gave Air Force a 60-55 cushion and sparked the game-ending rally. Welch finished with 13 points.

    During the Broncs' rally that tied it at 47, Bzdelik was whistled for a technical.

    "I just wanted to get something going with somebody," he said. "And shake it up a little bit."

    The spark came a little bit later, but it did serve its immediate purpose, forward Jacob Burtschi said.

    "It's better he gets it than me," Burtschi said. "I like it whenever he gets excited. When he's (upset) with the ref, that means I can get away with maybe a mistake or two and run my mouth a little bit and he's not focusing on me.

    "You hardly ever see him get a technical, so when he gets a technical, he means business."

    Nwaelele's three-point play with just under five minutes remaining made it 57-53, and after Zach Trader's basket with about 3½ minutes left, the Broncs went cold and the Falcons closed with a 13-3 run.

    "Things didn't go our way late," Burrell said. "We couldn't hit the points when we had to and they could."

    Texas-Pan American coach Tom Schuberth complained to the officiating crew of Mike Littlewood, Jim Danner and Bobby McRoy afterward about the disparity in the team's trips to the foul line -- Air Force was 19-of-21 from the stripe and the Broncs just 5-of-6.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 58 70
    FG Made-Attempted 21-44 (.477) 20-38 (.526)
    3P Made-Attempted 11-23 (.478) 11-23 (.478)
    FT Made-Attempted 5-6 (.833) 19-21 (.905)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (0/0) 10 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 2 12

    2006-07 Season

    » Dec 6, 2006 @AFA 70, UTPA 58Recap