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
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.
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
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
Were the Falcons any colder than the erstwhile
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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~