Falcons Stumble against Rejuvenated Rams

The Falcons hit the Denver Pepsi Center with high expectations but were quickly brought back down to earth by a rejuvenated CSU team. Has the Falcon's lazy game cost them in the big Tourney? Here for his first appearance as a guest writer is Falconer004 with his anlaysis and opinion on the game.

Despite a 14-4 late second half run, the Falcons had too big a mountain to climb to overcome a 20 point Ram lead.  Still, that rally shows the team's mettle and ability to fight back even when the situation is darkest and desperate.  The Falcons closed a 20 point lead to just 6 points--46-52 with 1:47 remaining, but they just couldn't get over the top.  The Rams coolly sunk their free throws and put the game out of reach with persistent defense in the final minute.  Falcons' frosty shooting and uncharacteristic turnovers along with a rejuvenated CSU Ram team with a healthier Matt Nelson threw a question mark into Air Force celebration plans.  Now they must anxiously await NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday to know whether the Falcons will go to the Big Dance.  Did the ESPN predicted lock jinx the Falcons?  Did the team think they had an NCAA invite sewn up? Had that first time entry into top 25 gone to their heads? The Falcons offense seemed more indicative of a team too tight to make the goal, than one sure it was going to beat its foe.  Air Force looked like a struggling team, not like the team that had found a way to win the Mountain West.  Now we will find out if winning the regular season outright has any importance in the 7th RPI rated Division 1 conference. The reward of the automatic bid to the conference tourney winner already skews its importance over the regular season.  We shall see whether it also can completely screw it.  

AJ Kuhle struggled in teir loss against CSU (AP)Not much went well for the Falcons from the start.  They controlled the opening tip, but turned the ball over near their goal and the Rams went down and scored first.  Air Force answered but there was never a Falcon lead more than a point.  A.J. Kuhle's early and only 3 gave Air Force it's only lead, and when the Rams went up after that,  they were there to stay.  Both teams' defenses seemed to control the tempo and hold scoring down.   Nick Welch had no points in first half, and the Falcons missed about 5 layups and made only 2 of 9 three point goals.  Yet despite the lack of offense, Rams' did not lead by more than 7 in first half.  The Falcons sounded squarely in the game with the score at the half of 20-25.   They were just a couple of 3's away from the lead.  The Falcon defense was still keeping game in reach.  Several turnovers by the Falcons also did not keep them from easy striking distance.  Then came the second half and the Rams ran away with the game.  

The Rams were able to get the ball inside to their power guys and they were able to throw it down.  They compounded injury with a couple of 3's and several FT's including 2 from a Technical.  While this happened our offense went antarctic.  When Air Force wasn't missing fieldgoals and freethrows, they were turning the ball over in various ways including shot-clock violations.   The Rams began to pull away early in 2nd from 25-20 score.  At about 2 minutes into 2nd half the Rams were at 31-22, then built lead to 38-23 at 14:48 reaching the max margin 45-25 before the Falcons started their rally back.  Burtschi went strong on the boards with several rebounds, Welch started to score in the paint, Hood and Keller hit 3's, and for awhile hope sprang eternal and victory even seemed in reach.  But on this disappointing day in March, Air Force joined St. Joseph 's conference tournament fate.  We can only hope Air Force shares St. Joseph 's NCAA tournament call.  For many are culled, and few are chosen.

   Were the Falcons any colder than the erstwhile perfect St. Joseph 's team? Falcons' frosty shooting and uncharacteristic turnovers resulted in the Mountain West Conference regular season Champion .

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This is the first shot at Falcon basketball analysis and opinion by Falconer004.  We hope you enjoy his perspective and invite him back for more AFAFalcons.com guest writer duties.  ~Falcon Mike~



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