Last week Air Force played perhaps its best game of the season in routing Prairie View A&M, 75-41. The Falcons then stayed close with Washington State of the Pac-10, playing admirably before falling, 75-68.
Two steps forward.
Tonight Air Force lost to Northern Arizona.
One step back. Way back.
The Lumberjacks had lost four of five heading into tonight’s game, including blowout losses to San Diego State and New Mexico of the Mountain West Conference by 41 and 39 points, respectively.
Yes, the Falcons missed leading scorer Grant Parker and his 17.1 points per game. And, yes, they missed starting center Sammy Schafer.
But Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds, to his credit, said after the game that while those players would have helped the Falcons he didn’t think their absence was why his team lost.
“We’re not the only team in the country that has injuries,” Reynolds said. “So we’ve got to find a way to battle through it.”
Air Force played well in the first half, building a 27-23 advantage at the break. But the Falcons were dreadful in the second half. They scored on just one of their first 11 possessions, and through 15-plus minutes they had scored just nine points.
For they game they went 3-for-13 from 3-point range (including 0-for-7 in the second half) and 11-of-21 from the free throw line.
That can’t happen. Just like the Air Force football team has to be able to run the ball and limit turnovers, the basketball team has to make 3-pointers and free throws.
-On the bright side, freshman guard Todd Fletcher had another good game for the Falcons.
Fletcher, who scored a career-high 13 points in a career-high 29 minutes a week ago against Washington State, had 11 points in 27 minutes tonight.
He seems to have a good feel for the game – Reynolds said he had “a good floor game,” tonight. And it showed on defense. Twice in the first half Fletcher broke into a passing lane to swipe the ball and start a fast break.
-Freshmen typically are up and down. That would describe Michael Lyons’ last two games. He had a career-high 25 last week against Washington State on 10-of-15 shooting. Tonight he went 2-of-10 from the floor and finished with four points.