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Nwaelele, 3-point shooting lead Air Force to another win

Jan 4, 2007 - 8:47 AM FORT COLLINS, Colorado (Ticker) -- Dan Nwaelele and Air Force's sizzling outside shooting once again proved too much for Colorado State.

Nwaelele sank four 3-pointers and scored 22 points as No. 16 Air Force posted its 10th straight win, an 81-75 victory over Colorado State in the Mountain West Conference opener for both schools.

The senior guard was one of four players to finish with at least three 3-pointers for the Falcons (14-1), which shot 15-of-27 (56 percent) from the arc.

"They have movement of the ball and they are so good on their outside shots," Colorado State forward Jason Smith said. "They just kept knocking down shot after shot after shot. It is definitely a tough offense to guard."

Tim Anderson and Jacob Burtschi scored 17 points each and Matt McCraw added 16 for Air Force, which beat Colorado State for the fourth consecutive time.

The Falcons sank 9-of-17 3-pointers in the opening half to carry a 45-35 lead into the break.

Along with the stellar outside shooting, Air Force helped build its lead with an uncanny job of protecting the ball, not committing a turnover until 6:31 after halftime. It finished with seven against 14 for Colorado State.

"I haven't seen a team play like that, they played flawless," Rams senior guard Cory Lewis said. "They don't turn over the ball, they don't take bad shots, they are just a very good team."

"Our goal every game is nine turnovers or less," Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "Any more than that is not good. Every conference game is meaningful."

The Rams (10-3), who had won their previous nine games, closed within two points twice in the second half, including 66-64 on two free throws by Stuart Creason with 5:28 to play.

"We closed the gap within two because we kept getting shots at the rim or we were kicking it out to our guards," said Creason, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. "We need to learn from that and continue to do that in the future."

John Frye split two from the line for Air Force 24 seconds later and Burtschi sank one of his three 3-pointers with 3:28 to play to push the lead to 70-64. Nwaelele added four points in the closing 17 seconds to secure the win.

"First conference win is a big, big win for us," Nwaelele said. "We practice and play well together, so we have a kind of chemistry going."

Smith scored 19 points and Lewis 18 for Colorado State, which fell short despite a 43-percent (9-of-21) effort from the arc.

"This is a disheartening, tough, demoralizing loss, but good things came of it," Rams coach Dale Layer said. "I thought we were tentative, that they were the aggressor in the first half. I thought that we were the aggressor in the second half."