Burtschi’s shot silences Utah

By DAN WOLKEN THE GAZETTE Updated: February 19, 2006 at 12:00 am • Published: February 19, 2006
SALT LAKE CITY - The 12,345 fans at the Huntsman Center saw the trouble coming. The ensuing shriek told of the crushing defeat for Utah. With 18 seconds left in the game, Air Force found Jacob Burtschi alone in the corner and he sank a 3-pointer to give the Falcons a 52-51 victory. Air Force’s NCAA Tournament hopes are alive and well today because of what Burtschi called the biggest shot of his career. And that shot came one week after he made a free throw with less than a second remaining to give Air Force a 62-61 victory over Wyoming. After Burtschi scored, Utah guard Johnnie Bryant missed a 17-footer to secure the victory for the Falcons, who improved to 21-5 overall and 9-4 in the Mountain West Conference. “For a split-second, whenever I caught the ball, I knew it was down to me,” Burtschi said. “I tried to zone everything out and let it fly. “Thank goodness my teammates put me in position to knock down a big shot and I did it. It came off pretty good, and everything felt so right, so I waited and it went through the net and I was like, ‘Thank goodness.’” Falcons Antoine Hood, Matt McCraw and Dan Nwaelele struggled offensively, scoring just 11 points combined. Still, Air Force led 24-19 at halftime and 36-29 with 10:49 left when center John Frye and Burtschi made 3-pointers. Burtschi scored 18 on 4 of 7 3-pointers and Frye scored 17, making 3 of 5. But Utah freshman center Luke Nevill, who finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, made a three-point play with 52 seconds left to put Utah in front 51-49. McCraw missed a shot, but Utah’s Shaun Green missed the first free throw of a oneand-one situation. Air Force went for the win, using a set play that required Hood to find an open shooter. “It’s designed for about three different people, and you have to make a good decision as to who’s open,” Falcons coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “We got a timely stop and a timely rebound and made a timely shot. We really executed that play very well to get an open look, and Jake knocked it down.” NEXT New Mexico (16-9, 7-5 MWC) at Air Force (21-5, 9-4), 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, UPN, 740/560 AM
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