Short-Handed Cowboys Drop Road Game at No. 17 Air Force

Feb. 3, 2007

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) - With three of their starters sitting out due to suspension and another sidelined with a bum ankle, the Wyoming Cowboys lost to the 17th-ranked Falcons 88-43 on Saturday.

Dan Nwaelele and Jacob Burtschi, whose last-second shot beat Wyoming in Laramie last month, each scored 18 points in limited minutes and the Falcons (20-3, 7-2 Mountain West) led 46-18 at halftime and by as many as 50 in the second half.

The 45-point margin was the biggest in the history of the Mountain West Conference.

The Cowboys (13-10, 4-5) got 13 points from freshman Eric Platt but had little else to stem the Falcons' scoring machine in Wyoming's worst defeat since a 101-51 loss at Cincinnati on Nov. 29, 1995.

The previous seven games between the schools had been decided by no more than five points.

Center Daaron Brown missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle three players missed the game as punishment for fighting in the closing minutes of Wyoming's loss at New Mexico last week.

Brandon Ewing and Brad Jones, Wyoming's top two scorers, were each suspended for the Air Force game and the school suspended Joseph Taylor indefinitely. Jones will also miss the New Mexico game later this season.

That left junior guard James Spencer as the only regular starter in a patchwork lineup that included sophomore Ike Okoye and three freshmen - Ryan Dermody, Travis Nelson and Platt - making their first collegiate starts.

Ewing, the league's top scorer at 20.4 points, and Jones have accounted for 48 percent of Wyoming's scoring this season, 51 percent of its 3-point shooting, 45 percent of its steals, and 63 percent of the team's free throws and assists.

Spencer's putback to open the scoring gave Wyoming its only lead of the game and the Falcons used a 19-3 run sparked by their trapping defense to take a commanding lead that would never be threatened.

Despite liberal substitutions, the Falcons kept pouring it on, using a 16-0 run to make it 36-10. The Falcons' best play didn't even count. Matt McCraw was tripped and stumbled through the lane, scooping the ball off the backboard and through the net and he skidded out of bounds. The basket was waived off for traveling.

All of the Falcons' starters were on the bench with 14 minutes left, but the Falcons still surged to a 74-30 lead with 7 1/2 minutes left thanks to three straight 3-pointers by Andrew Henke, who had 11 points.

Eric Kenzik's baseline jumper with 4:40 left gave Air Force an 83-33 lead.