SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Jacob Burtschi handed three pieces of
heavy hardware to his mother in the stands then hustled off to
celebrate another impressive win with his teammates.
Burtschi scored 16 points with four 3-pointers and Air
Force (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today; No. 23 AP) hit a season-high 16 3s on the way to its ninth straight
victory, 78-48 over Santa Clara in the championship game of the
Cable Car Classic on Friday night.
"We're very thrilled," Burtschi said. "A big part of our game
is knocking down 3s. We came out of the gate and hit a lot of
Andrew Henke, Matt McCraw and Nick Welch all added 13 points
with three 3s. The Falcons, who had one game with 15 3s and two
others when they hit 13 this season, shot 16-for-30 from long range
and five players had at least two. Burtschi also dished out five
assists and was named MVP.
The Falcons (13-1) put on an impressive show for the half-dozen
NBA scouts in attendance.
"We really pride ourselves on being completely unselfish,"
Henke said. "It just shows we're taking a step in the right
Dan Nwaelele added 12 points with two 3s, seven of his team's 21
assists for a career high and five rebounds as Air Force snapped
the Broncos' five-game home winning streak. Air Force finished two
shy of the school record for 3s and also two short of the Leavey
John Bryant had 10 points to lead Santa Clara but the 6-foot-10
center got into foul trouble and managed only one rebound in the
Broncos' worst defeat since a 93-59 loss at New Mexico on Nov. 13,
2004. Santa Clara last lost on its home floor to then-No. 21 Nevada
on Nov. 25.
"That's the best team we've played in a long time," Santa
Clara coach Dick Davey said. "You give them space, they're not
going to make every one, but it sure seemed like that for a while.
They're a team we'd have to make tremendous strides to catch up
Air Force plugged the middle on defense and Santa Clara (10-5)
had to settle for shots from the perimeter for much of the first
half -- and the Broncos weren't accurate, going 6-for-21 and making
only two of 10 3-point tries. The Falcons connected for 12 of their
3s before the break.
Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik asked his players to focus their
energy on post defense, which proved a key factor in the lopsided
outcome. Bryant and 7-footer Josh Higgins combined for only eight
"Offense is a variable. Defense is a constant," Bzdelik said.
"We're not always going to shoot this well. ... The shot
distribution on our team was nine, eight, eight, seven, seven,
nine. We had 21 assists and 30 baskets. But the unselfishness is
also reflected in the defense."
Air Force sophomore Henke faced his older brother, Santa Clara
junior Mitch Henke, for the first time in their collegiate careers
and it was the first matchup between these programs.
"It's all love in the family," Andrew Henke said. "His ankle
was hurt pretty bad. You could see the bruising up his leg."
The Falcons came in shooting 54 percent from the floor and 45
percent from long range and had an easy time attacking both the
Broncos' zone and man-to-man defenses with crisp ball movement.
They hit eight of their first 12 shots and took control early,
leading 48-21 at halftime.
Santa Clara lost by 25 or more for the third time this season,
committed 16 turnovers and shot 38 percent in its final tuneup
before the Broncos kick off West Coast Conference play at home next
Saturday against Saint Mary's.
"We tried to get a hand up and then they'd go back door, so all
around they played really well," Broncos guard Brody Angley said.
"We just didn't execute. All their guys can shoot."
Santa Clara, the defending champion in its own tournament after
beating Bucknell last year for its 14th title in the event, had won
five of six in a stretch that featured a 74-60 loss at Kentucky on
Davey's teams fell to 5-29 against ranked opponents. The Broncos
started the game 1-for-6 and Air Force hit seven of its first 11
shots for a quick 19-5 lead.
San Francisco Giants infielder Kevin Frandsen was on hand to
present the sixth man award named in the honor of his late brother,
D.J., a former manager for the Broncos. Andrew Henke received the