BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – Air Force’s outside shooting kept the underdog Falcons in the game until finally being trumped by No. 23 Colorado’s powerful inside game.
Freshman Josh Scott scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half, Andre Roberson had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Colorado handed Air Force its first loss of the season with an 89-74 victory on Sunday night.
Air Force set a torrid pace in the first half, making eight of 14 from 3-point range (57.1 percent) but cooled off in the second, when they made only four of 16 (25 percent) as Colorado increasingly contested the perimeter shots, hit the boards and focused on scoring from up close.
When asked about a turning point in the game, Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich noted Colorado’s rebounding advantage (46-19) as well as the Buffaloes’ outscoring the Falcons 18-4 in second-chance points.
“Second shots and also the post feeds, the post touches inside to their big guys,” he said. “When they got it in, they either scored it or got fouled or both and that hurt us. Then we got Taylor (Broekhuis) in foul trouble and we had to bring him out and with him out, we lose a little bit with him not being on the floor.”
The Buffaloes improved to 9-1 at home against Air Force (5-1), which fell one win shy of matching its only 6-0 start in 1982-83.
“Our guys showed some resolve, showed some toughness,” Pilipovich said. “We went through a stretch there in the second half where we probably got a little aggressive offensively, a little quick with our decision-making, and it hurt us. But our effort, our toughness, our competiveness, I love it.”
Michael Lyons scored 20 points for the Falcons, who fell to 2-76 when playing ranked opponents. Todd Fletcher matched his career high with 18 points.
“It was a big game for us, gave us a great opportunity to see where we were,” Fletcher said. “Colorado is like what we’ll see in conference play, so we want to see how we compare to these teams. I thought for the majority of the game we looked pretty good, but there are definitely some things we need to work on, as you can tell.
“Colorado is a great team and they outplayed us. They are long, they’re tall, they can shoot. They do a lot of great things,” Fletcher said.
Air Force closed to 58-56 on Max Yon’s jumper in the second half, but the Buffaloes outscored the Falcons 17-5 over the next seven minutes to go in front 75-61 with 5:25 remaining.
Roberson converted a breakaway dunk, Eli Stalzer hit a 3-pointer and Scott had six of his points during the stretch, four coming on free throws.
Fletcher hit his fourth 3-pointer with 4:23 to play to interrupt Colorado’s momentum but by then, the Buffaloes’ lead was too much to overcome.
Dinwiddie connected on a 3-pointer with 2:09 left in the opening period, putting Colorado in front 41-39 at the half.
Colorado used a 7-0 burst, capped by Stalzer’s 3-pointer, to take a 36-31 lead with 6:11 remaining in the first half but that was offset by a pair of 3-pointers from by Fletcher and Lyons, who scored 12 of his points in the opening 20 minutes.
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