Denver Wilts Under Air Force Pressure, 61-59

The University of Denver (3-5 overall, 0-0 conference) streaked out to a large lead against Air Force (4-3 overall, 0-0 conference) at Magness Arena Saturday afternoon – but the Pioneers could not hold on. The Pioneers had a fairy tale start to the game and enjoyed leads of 18 to 3 and 27 to 5 before falling to the pressing Falcons.

Denver was controlling the game tempo early but a soft press by the visitors started to disrupt Denver’s rhythm in the final 8 minutes of the first half. The Falcons closed the gap to 11 points at break, 38-27, and could clearly see the Pioneers offense fall out of sync.

Denver picked up 6 quick personal fouls to open the second half – all in less than 5 minutes. The Denver offense stalled and DU’s lead was drawn down to 9 points when,  at 13:27, Joe Rosga picked up his 4th foul. At 12:02 Jake Pemberton picked up his 4th foul of the game. As the fouls mounted, the Falcons started to pressure all over the court. And, on offense, the Falcons started hitting from the outside and moving the ball inside on the Pioneers for easy buckets. Jake Neff kept the falcons at bay when he came in to spell Rosga at the midway point of the second half with two 3-point buckets – but the Falcons pressure continued. DU’s lead was down to 5 points at the 8:45 mark and slipping fast. Air Force also moved into the bonus against the foul-plagued Pioneers at 7:07 and shortly thereafter Joe Rosga (4:38) exited the game with his 5th personal foul. Denver responded to the pressure with turnovers and rushed offensive possessions.

Denver lost the lead with about a 1:59 to go, 56-55, and could never gain control again. A free throw by Jake Holtzman tied the game at 59 each but a tomahawk dunk by Air Force’s Thomas Louder made it 61-59 and the clock ran out on the Pioneers chances of a comeback.

The Pioneers could only score 21 points in the second half and threw the ball away 22 times for the game in a shoddy exhibition of ball management. After the game, an exasperated head coach Rodney Billups agreed, “They started pressuring our guards – because we have not been able to take care of the ball all year. (After the big win against Wyoming) this is as bad as it gets. We played on our heels. We played not to lose.”

Daniel Amigo led the Pioneers with 11 points and 9 rebounds. Joe Rosga tallied 11 points as well. Ryan Manning had 19 points to pace the Falcons along with 14 points from Pervis Louder to seal the sloppy Pioneers day.

All in all, a very poor game for the Denver.

6 thoughts on “Denver Wilts Under Air Force Pressure, 61-59”

  1. Pretty solid first half and the second half I don’t even want to talk about

    Turnovers killed us once again. Freakin college ball players need to handle it better

    This one hurt

    BUT…we live to fight another day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the more frustrating games I’ve seen at Magness.

    DU started great out of the chute by pushing the ball up court with excellent ball movement and hitting great open shots. But the Falcons adjusted to that by pressing, and DU had no answer for it as the game went on. DU rarely had problems in the past with other team’s pressing, but his year’s poor ball handling team played right into the more athletic Falcons’ hands. I see this as a coaching as well as a personnel issue – this team has enough veteran players and plays at tempo that they should be able to control the ball by now. But they don’t. It’s kind of obvious, but this team just gives up too many turnovers to win consistently. Until they can solve that issue, they will wallow in mediocrity at best.

    Additionally, the second half lacked smarts and leadership on the floor for the Pioneers. The six fouls DU accrued at the beginning minutes of the second half were dumb fouls, not contesting-the-shooter fouls. That bit them in the ass later, when Rosga fouled out. He’s the heart and soul of the DU team, and he needs to be on the floor when his team needed him in the final minutes. Once he was gone, DU folded like a tent.

    This game was given away, gift-wrapped by the Pios. I think the coaching staff needs to figure out ball security soon…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fouls and turnovers. Lack of discipline. Blame the players on the court, but blame the coaching too.

      Where were Billups’ recruits. It was like the same six DU players in the second half.

      Does DU know how to break a press? If you bring the ball up the sideline that’s as good as another defender.

      Aside, Pemberton’s whole left arm tattoo is hideous. Leave the tattoos to the five-star collegegiate playets.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Billup’s recruits to date are Murkey, Rodriguez, Blake, Carlisle and Joiner. Only Murkey actually played vs Air Force. Rodriguez sat on the bench for the entire game, and the other three players did not dress today. I don’t think Blake or Joiner has dressed all year, but I could mistaken. Not sure where Carlisle was today – I didn’t see him on bench.

    Of those, only Rodriguez really concerns me right now. He has the talent and athleticism to play significant minutes for this team, but the fact that he sat today likely means that the staff is trying to teach him how to be a more complete player – probably things like passing as much as you dribble, defense and shot selection. He’s a very exciting, electric player to watch, but my guess is they are trying to mold a great playground player into an effective D-I guard. I am sure we’ll see more of him this year….


  4. I wasn’t able to go to this one, but after checking the score a few times in the first half, I was shocked to see the final result. It sounds like an incredibly frustrating display in the second half, and not at all what I hoped for after the Wyoming game.

    We’ll see what happens with San Jose State tomorrow – the Spartans are pretty dreadful, so if Denver can’t bounce back against them, it’s further cause for concern.

    Liked by 1 person

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