Air Force (18-13) at Weber State (27-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 23, 9:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dee Events Center (11,500) -- Ogden, Utah. Television: None. CIT Record: Air Force 2-1, Weber State 2-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: Having earned their first-ever postseason road win earlier this week, the Air Force Falcons now try to make it two in a row on Saturday as they challenge the Weber State Wildcats in the second round of the 2013 CollegeInsider.com Tournament at the Dee Events Center in Ogden, Utah.
Air Force, which was beaten by UNLV during the Mountain West Conference Tournament back on March 13 by a score of 72-56, still had a strong enough record to be invited to take part in the postseason. On Wednesday night, the squad clashed with Hawaii in Honolulu and captured a 69-65 victory.
As for the Wildcats, a team that finished the 2012-13 campaign with a 26-6 mark, they played second fiddle to Montana in the Big Sky Conference and after losing to the Grizzlies in the tournament title tilt, 67-64, were relegated to this event where they had a record of 1-1 previously. Weber State had little trouble taking care of Cal Poly in the first round on Wednesday night with a lopsided 85-43 final.
This is just the third encounter all-time between these two teams, with Air Force having won the first meeting back in 1974 by a score of 56-49, and the Wildcats returning the favor less than two years later with an 82-67 triumph.
The winner of this meeting will head to the quarterfinals next week against an opponent to be determined.
Generally the Rainbow Warriors are a pretty tough bunch at home, and that was again the case earlier this week against Air Force, but still the Falcons figured out a way to escape with a three-point win. Despite turning the ball over 16 times and shooting just 6-of-12 at the free-throw line, Air Force leaned heavily on Mike Fitzgerald who generated a game-high 25 points and also pulled down nine rebounds, followed by Kyle Green with 18 points and six assists.
Fitzgerald, one of three players to have started every game for the Academy, is second on the team in scoring with his 10.2 ppg, but is first on the glass with four boards per game, an area that has typically been an issue for a shorter Air Force squad this season. Michael Lyons accounts for 17.7 ppg, and is also one of the better rebounders for the Falcons with 3.9 rpg.
Weber State scored the first points of the night against Cal Poly and never looked back, winning by 42 once the smoke had cleared. Scott Bamforth shot a staggering 7-of-9 behind the 3-point line as he finished with 23 points, followed by Kyle Tresnak with 20 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the floor overall. Add in Davion Berry and Joel Bolomboy with 12 and 10 points, respectively, and there was very little that didn't go right for a WSU squad that shot 60.0 percent from the floor and turned the ball over just eight times.
Playing close to 32 minutes per game this season, Berry leads the group in scoring with 15.1 ppg, and he is also first with 115 assists, many of which have gone to Bamforth (13.5 ppg) and Tresnak (11.5 ppg). Between Berry and Bamforth, they've knocked down 138 3-pointers this season, more than all opponents combined (123).
Being overlooked for more prestigious postseason tournaments even though they had a huge win total, the Wildcats have something to prove and are not about to let even one game slip away from them in their own building.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Weber State 77, Air Force 66
03/23 10:37:59 ET