Colorado beats Air Force 93-56 to snap road skid
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — Lucas Siewert tied career highs with 17 points and eight rebounds and the Colorado Buffaloes snapped a six-game skid in true road games by whipping Air Force 93-56 Saturday night.
It was the ninth straight win for the Buffaloes (3-1) over the Falcons (2-4), who fell behind 17-4 in the opening minutes and never really recovered in losing for the 25th time in the 28-game series with Colorado.
“We set our goal for ourselves in the beginning of the season to get six or seven road wins, so that’s the first one,” Siewert said. “We’ve got more work to do on the road and we’re going to try to get as many wins as we can.”
Siewert made all six of his shots, three from 3-point range, and both free throws in 22 efficient minutes.
Eleven Buffaloes scored, and D’Shawn Schwartz, a sophomore forward who played at nearby Sand Creek High School in Colorado Springs, provided a second-half spark and 11 points one game after getting into early foul trouble in a loss at San Diego.
“D’Shawn was terrific tonight,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “Obviously playing in his hometown meant a lot to him. He played with aggressiveness, he played with confidence. We need that D’Shawn Schwartz every night.”
Siewert sank a pair of 3-pointers when the Buffs hit seven of nine from long range in building a 25-9 lead, and his steal-and-dunk capped a 14-1 second-half run that made it 55-29.
A.J. Walker’s 13 points led Air Force, which didn’t reach double digits until Lavelle Scottie’s layup 12 minutes into the game, started working the ball inside after going 0 for 6 from the arc and finally found some success. They went on an 8-0 run to pull within 33-26 before the Buffs counterpunched to take a 36-26 lead into the locker room.
The game was out of hand by the time Ryan Swan sank the Falcons’ first 3-pointer, making it 57-34.
“The second half I thought we shared the ball better offensively,” Boyle said. “We talked (at halftime) about not taking the foot off the gas, and I thought we did that in the first half.”
Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said his young squad needed to learn a lesson from the Buffs about hitting the open man and sharing the ball and the pressure.
“We’re not selfish, we’re just trying to do it on our own, and we can’t do that,” Pilipovich said. “We had tired legs. And I knew, this is not a team you want to have some tired legs against.”
Schwartz had 14 family members and many friends in his own cheering section “in the 30s to 40s.”
“It kind of felt like a neutral game,” Schwartz said. “It was weird when we came out of the locker room, there was a lot of cheering for the Buffaloes.”
Boyle was glad Schwartz didn’t have the kind of homecoming he did during his playing career when he was booed every time he touched the ball in four trips with Kansas to Boulder.
“I’m glad the Air Force fans didn’t do that to D’Shawn.”
The Buffs lost Tyler Bey, their leading shot blocker and rebounder, when he was inadvertently undercut after a failed alley-oop dunk and tried to hang onto the rim before falling on his right shoulder at the 12:45 mark of the first half.
Boyle said Bey aggravated a sprained AC joint.
“I don’t think it’s anything serious. He didn’t separate it or anything,” Boyle said. ”... I asked him after the game how he was feeling. He seemed pretty positive. But you never know until the next day.”
Swan said the Falcons are still trying to adjust to their new offense and players are trying to figure out where they fit in.
“I feel like we’re just trying to find out what our identity is going to be. We never established who’s going to play this role, who’s going to play that role,” Swan said.
Colorado: Coming off a 1-1 road swing through San Diego and the Academy, the Buffaloes get some home cooking for the next few weeks with four games at the CU Events Center before they visit New Mexico on Dec. 11.
Air Force: The Falcons, who were coming off a 1-2 trip to the Bimini Jam in the Bahamas, still have some time to work out the kinks before beginning Mountain West play in January.
Colorado returns to Boulder for its next four games beginning with Portland on Wednesday night.
Air Force tries to get back on the winning track Wednesday night when the Falcons host Missouri State.