No. 23/17 Air Force Tops George Washington, 66-52

Dec. 29, 2006

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Jacob Burtschi scored 21 points and Dan Nwaelele scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half to help No. 23/17 Air Force beat George Washington 66-52 in the first round of the Cable Car Classic on Thursday night.

Matt McCraw, in his second game back from an ankle injury, added 14 points as the Falcons (12-1) won their eighth straight.

Rob Diggs scored 16 points for the Colonials (7-3) and Carl Elliott finished with 12.

"That is probably the most disciplined, well-balanced team I've coached against," George Washington coach Karl Hobbs said. "I'm just happy it's over. Now we can go back to playing our style. You almost have to have a separate game plan for them."

Neither team had played in a while. George Washington last played on Dec. 12 while Air Force has been inactive since Dec. 13. The Falcons had their Dec. 23rd game at Northern Colorado canceled because of the recent storms in the area.

Air Force, which will meet Santa Clara in Friday's championship game, made 11 of 25 3-pointers against the Colonials. It was the 10th time that it had attempted at least 22 3s and the sixth occasion it connected on 10 or more from behind the arc.

"Coach tells us not to shy away from the basket," Nwaelele said. "If we're open, we shoot it. We all have confidence on this team."

The Falcons hit four quick baskets to open the second half, scoring 10 unanswered points for a 40-31 lead. Relying on a steady stream of 3-pointers, Air Force maintained its advantage although the Colonials were within eight points entering the final 5 minutes.

"I thought we played to our advantages in the first half," Hobbs said. "We weren't able to maintain that level of focus. I thought we lost the game in the first 5 minutes of the second half. Against them, when you make a mistake, they capitalize on it at the other end."



Air Force, the nation's most accurate shooting team, made its first six shots en route to a 16-8 lead but the Colonials led, 31-30, at the break. It was only the second time all season that Air Force had trailed at halftime. They also trailed Duke at halftime in their only loss of the season.

"We were a little bit more solid, a little better in every area in the second half," Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "We found a way. George Washington is having a great year. This was a quality win."

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