Air Force records 29th straight home win over UtahFeb 15, 2007 - 6:07 AM COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Ticker) -- Nick Welch and Dan Nwaelele provided a 1-2 punch to enable Air Force to gain some revenge.
Welch tied a career high with 20 points and Nwaelele added 19 for the 14th-ranked Falcons, who won their 29th consecutive home game, a 69-43 triumph over Utah in a Mountain West Conference clash.
Avenging a 85-79 defeat to Utah on January 16, Air Force (22-4, 9-3 MWC) continued the best start in school history by matching Brigham Young for the nation's longest-active home winning streak. The Falcons remained one game behind the Cougars atop the conference standings.
"To play 40 minutes of aggressive basketball at both ends of the court ... I'm always looking for that kind of effort," Falcons coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "I thought that in the last couple of games, we've kind of fallen into running an offense to look pretty as opposed to running at the score, looking at the first opportunity that we get. We got back to that today."
After Luke Nevill made a layup to give Utah a 14-12 lead with 13:15 remaining in the first half, Air Force scored the next 16 points. Nwaelele opened the run with a 3-pointer and later added a three-point play and Matt McCraw nailed a basket from the arc.
Moments after Welch sank a pair a free throws to become the 20th player in school history to top 1,000 career points, he buried a 3-pointer to help give the Falcons a 35-24 halftime lead.
"Well, it's better late than never," Bzdelik said. "He played a heck of a basketball game. I am very proud of him."
Nwaelele remained hot in the second half, scoring nine points in a 19-2 run that broke open the contest in the second half to give Air Force a 60-30 bulge with 8:36 to play.
Welch capped the burst with a 3-pointer and added another with 3:23 remaining as the Falcons shot 50 percent (22-of-44) from the floor, including 9-of-17 from the arc.
"Give Air Force a lot of credit," Utah coach Ray Giacoletti said. "They knew they had a wounded team coming. Give them credit. They weren't going to let us hang around. We couldn't get a basket in the half-court offense to slow them down."
Welch hit 6-of-11 shots and Nwaelele made 7-of-9 for Air Force, which committed just eight turnovers and had a 26-21 rebounding edge.
Nevill scored 16 points for Utah (9-15, 4-7), which managed just 19 second-half points and slipped to 1-8 on the road this season.
"Somebody needed to knock down a shot," Giacoletti said. "Air Force did a good job defensively. They let Luke (Nevill) get some good looks, but they made sure no one else did."
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
UTAH 24 19 43
AIR FORCE (14) 35 34 69 FINAL
Feb 14 11:48 PM
- NCAA BB
AIR FORCE (14) 35 HALFTIME
Feb 14 10:49 PM
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