Dec. 29, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Jacob Burtschi scored 16 points with four 3-pointers and No. 23 Air Force hit a season-high 16 3s on the way to its ninth straight victory, 78-48 over Santa Clara in the championship game of the Cable Car Classic on Friday night.
Andrew Henke, Matt McCraw and Nick Welch all added 13 points with three 3s. The Falcons, who had one game with 15 3s and two others when they hit 13 this season, shot 16-for-30 from long range and five players had at least two. Burtschi also dished out five assists and was named most valuable player of the classic.
The Falcons (13-1) put on an impressive show for the half-dozen NBA scouts in attendance.
Dan Nwaelele added 12 points with two 3s, seven of his team's 21 assists and five rebounds as Air Force snapped the Broncos' five-game home winning streak. Air Force finished two shy of the school record for 3s and also two short of the Leavey Center record.
John Bryant had 10 points to lead Santa Clara but the 6-foot-10 center got into foul trouble and managed only one rebound in the Broncos' worst defeat since a 93-59 loss at New Mexico on Nov. 13, 2004. Santa Clara last lost on its home floor to then-No. 21 Nevada on Nov. 25.
Air Force plugged the middle on defense and Santa Clara (10-5) had to settle for shots from the perimeter for much of the first half - and the Broncos weren't accurate, going 6-for-21 and making only two of 10 3-point tries. The Falcons connected for 12 of their 3s before the break.
"That's the best team we've played in a long time," Santa Clara coach Dick Davey said. "You give them space, they're not going to make every one, but it sure seemed like that for a while. They're a team we'd have to make tremendous strides to catch up to."
Air Force sophomore Henke faced his older brother, Santa Clara junior Mitch Henke, for the first time in their collegiate careers and it was the first matchup between these programs.
The Falcons came in shooting 54 percent from the floor and 45 percent from long range and had an easy time attacking both the Broncos' zone and man-to-man defenses with crisp ball movement. They hit eight of their first 12 shots and took control early, leading 48-21 at halftime.
"We tried to get a hand up and then they'd go back door, so all around they played really well," Broncos guard Brody Angley said. "We just didn't execute. All their guys can shoot."
Santa Clara lost by 25 or more for the third time this season, committed 16 turnovers and shot 38 percent in its final tuneup before the Broncos kick off West Coast Conference play at home next Saturday against Saint Mary's.
Santa Clara, the defending champion in its own tournament after beating Bucknell last year for its 14th title in the event, had won five of six in a stretch that featured a 74-60 loss at Kentucky on Dec. 19.
Coach Dick Davey's teams fell to 5-29 against ranked opponents. The Broncos started the game 1-for-6 and Air Force hit seven of its first 11 shots for a quick 19-5 lead.
San Francisco Giants infielder Kevin Frandsen was on hand for an award named in the honor of his late brother, D.J.
Cable Car Classic Awards
Kevin and Dick O'Connor Award: Dan Nwaelele, Air Force
D.J. Frandsen Memorial Sixth-Man Award: Andrew Henke, Air Force
John Bryant, Santa Clara
Jacob Burtschi, Air Force
Carl Elliott, George Washington
Matt McCraw, Air Force
Dan Nwaelele, Air Force
Most Valuable Player
Jacob Burtschi, Air Force