for this game

Brigham Young keeps Air Force reeling

Feb 28, 2007 - 7:00 AM COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Ticker) -- Air Force is finding out how life is on the other side of the Mountain.

Austin Ainge scored 14 points and Keena Young sparked a second-half comeback as Brigham Young toppled the 20th-ranked Falcons, 62-58, in a Mountain West Conference matchup.

The Cougars (22-7, 12-3 MWC) wrapped up a share of the conference regular-season crown while snapping Air Force's 30-game home winning streak, which was the nation's longest.

"We're excited. It's what we set out to do at the beginning," BYU coach Dave Rose said of winning the league title. "Our goals are to win every game ... and even though that didn't happen, it's good to get a share of the championship."

In sending the Falcons to their third straight defeat, BYU, ironically, now owns the longest win streak in the country - also at 30 games.

Air Force (23-7, 10-6), which seemed a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, suddenly is in jeopardy after absorbing its third defeat in eight days.

"Everybody is so worried about the consequence of every single game," Falcons coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "Let's worry about playing the game. All of the other stuff will take care of itself. Hey, BYU is 22-2 ... we're 23-7. RPI, strength of schedule, we're all in the same ballpark.

"Yeah, we've hit a couple of bumps here, but you know what? Everybody hits bumps. We're going to have to respond in the Mountain West Conference Tournament."

The loss was particularly painful since the Falcons blew an 11-point second-half lead and managed a paltry nine points in the final 13:18 in falling to 54-2 in the past four years at home.

A pair of 3-pointers by Tim Anderson and one by Ryan Teets capped a 13-2 run that put Air Force in front, 49-38, with 13:18 left.

BYU answered with eight straight points in a 14-2 spurt to take a 52-51 lead on a jumper by Young with just over 6 1/2 minutes to play.

Jacob Burtschi gave the Falcons their last lead at 58-56 on a 3-pointer with 4:48 to go, but it turned out to be Air Force's final points.

"It wasn't a well-played game ... to be honest with you," Bzdelik said.

Trent Plaisted hit a jumper and added a pair of free throws for a 60-58 lead with 2:50 left and the Falcons were powerless to generate a tying basket, committing a number of miscues down the stretch.

"Air Force has a personality and I think that defensively we did a good job," Rose said. "We were very fortunate tonight. We did our thing and this is a quality win. To beat a top-25 team on their home court in late February. ... I think that is very good for our postseason."

Ainge hit four 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes to help BYU rally from a seven-point deficit to close within 32-30 at halftime.

Anderson and Burtschi scored 15 points apiece for Air Force, which lost three straight games for the first time since March 2003. Dan Nwaelele added 14 and became the 21st player in school history to score 1,000 points.