Entering Saturday afternoon’s game with the Denver Pioneers, the Air Force Falcons had been extremely tough to knock off on their home floor over the first month of the 2016-17 season.
The Falcons were a perfect 6-0 inside Clune Arena, with wins over the likes of the Jacksonville Dolphins, the Florida A&M Rattlers, and most recently, the Missouri State Bears in the MW/MVC Challenge.
On Saturday, the Pioneers were looking to put an end to the Falcons’ winning streak, while also looking for their third road win of the season.
They would achieve both of those things, thanks in large part to a big performance from the big man in the middle.
Junior forward Daniel Amigo scored a career-high 33 points, 27 of which came in the second half, and Denver put an end to Air Force’s home winning streak, 77-65.
Both teams opened the game with some strong shooting from three point range. Jake Pemberton and Zach Kocur traded long balls with under 15 minutes to play in the half, resulting in a 13-12 lead for Air Force at the first media break.
The Falcons would stretch their lead to five points before the 10 minute mark, as a jumper from Lavelle Scottie gave the home side a 19-14 cushion. The lead would grow to as many as eight points just a couple minutes later, but Denver continued to chip away.
At the half, the Pioneers were behind by just four points, at 35-31.
Amigo got things going in the second half for the Pioneers, hitting a jumper just 15 seconds into the frame, cutting the deficit down to two points with plenty of game still to play.
That was the start of things to come for the junior out of El Paso, TX in the second half.
A jumper from Amigo at the 14:08 mark tied the game up at 44-all, but Air Force responded with a 7-0 run to retake a seven-point lead. Hayden Graham hit a jumper to end the run for the Falcons, but Thomas Neff responded with a three for Denver to get them back on the right track.
Amigo was a man on a mission in the second half, and wasn’t going to let Denver suffer their fourth road loss of the season.
With 7:46 to play in the game, Amigo hit a jumper to give the Pioneers the 54-53 lead. With the exception of being tied once, at 57-all, Denver would never trail the rest of the way.
The lead for the Pioneers reach as many as 14 points down the stretch, as a free throw from Neff gave Denver a 73-59 lead with under two minutes on the clock.
Denver pulled away over the final seven minutes, sending Air Force to their first loss at home in the process, a 77-65 defeat to the Pioneers.
In 29 minutes of floor time, Daniel Amigo set a new career-high in points on the afternoon. He went a sparkling 14-of-18 from the field, scoring a game-high 33 points. Amigo also pulled down 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double on the year.
Joe Rosga picked up his fourth foul around the midway point of the second half, forcing Denver to turn to its reserve guards during a crucial point in the contest. It didn’t phase the Pioneers, and Rosga finished the game with 10 points and 5 assists.
Thomas Neff added a season-high 12 points, going 4-of-7 from the floor in the win.
Hayden Graham led the way for the Falcons, scoring a team-high 16 points and pulling down 8 rebounds in the loss. It was Graham’s fourth-straight game with double-digit points.
Jacob Van added 14 points, while Zach Kocur chipped in with 13 points for the Falcons.
As a team, Denver shot an even 50% (7-of-14) from three point range, in comparison to Air Force shooting just 31.8% (7-of-22).
The win was the third in the last five games for the Denver Pioneers (4-5, 0-0), who have now alternated wins and losses over their last six games. Denver will look for back-to-back wins for the first time this year when they take on the South Alabama Jaguars on December 13th to wrap up a seven-game road trip.
With the loss, the Air Force Falcons (6-5, 0-0) have lost five of their last six games after starting the season on a five-game winning streak. The Falcons will look to get back to their winning ways next Saturday, when they pay a visit to Boulder, CO to take on the Colorado Buffaloes.
– T. Bennett