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Strong Second Half Helps Air Force Defeat Grambling State

Overcoming a slow start, the Air Force basketball team grabbed 23 offensive rebounds on their way to a 59-34 victory over Grambling State.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After a poor first half by both teams, the Air Force Falcons (4-3) hit the offensive glass with a vengeance to blow open a close game and defeat the visiting Grambling State Tigers by a score of 59-34 Wednesday evening in Colorado Springs. The Falcons grabbed 23 offensive rebounds on the evening, a rare feat for the Falcons who usually struggle on the glass.

Grambling State sat back in a 2-3 zone defense and forced the Falcons to try and shoot over the top. The Falcons would oblige in the first half, not penetrating the zone enough and the shots were not falling. Air Force was unable to consistently hit shots (37% for the game but aided by a lot of easy second chance baskets), explaining why they only held a 23-16 lead at the intermission. Air Force looked to penetrate and collapse the zone more in the second half, opening up some easier shots as well as help the Falcons hit the offensive glass. The Falcons quickly surged out to a double digit lead, and were ahead by as many as 29 points in the second half.

Another sign that the Falcons are just not in sync is some of the mysterious line-ups Dave Pilipovich has thrown out in the last two games. Pilipovich has brought leading scorer Max Yon and usual starting point guard Matt Mooney off the bench the last two games. Against Texas Tech, freshman guards Trevor Lyons and C.J. Siples started in their place. Against Grambling State tonight, the Falcons started Lyons with Frank Toohey, a seldom used post player up to this point in the season. Yon responded to the benching in Texas Tech with 25 points, but tonight he did not have a good evening, being limited to 3 points with extremely limited minutes. Mooney was the leading scorer for the evening with 11 points, followed by Justin Hammonds with 10. The Falcons would have 12 players score in the game, as every player suited up for tonight's game got minutes versus the Tigers.

The Falcons are now off until Monday when they host a good Nebraska-Omaha team. The Mavericks have already faced a Mountain West team when they defeated Nevada on November 29th by a score of 78-54. Nebraska-Omaha is 3-3 on the season, with losses at Seattle, Nebraska and Kansas State. The Falcons will need to improve their offensive attack to not meet the same fate as Nevada when they face the visiting Mavericks Monday.