Air Force and George Washington both are getting back on the court after a layoff of more than two weeks. Only one of them had the time off by choice.
The 23rd-ranked Falcons and Colonials look to shake off the rust Thursday when they meet in the Cable Car Classic.
Air Force (11-1) is playing for the first time since a 70-47 victory over Norfolk State on Dec. 13. The Falcons were scheduled to play Northern Colorado on Saturday, but the game was postponed because of travel complications from the blizzard that blanketed the Denver area.
George Washington (7-2), which has never faced Air Force, has been off one day longer. Due to a big break for exams, the Colonials are playing for the first time since a 72-51 victory over Maryland-Baltimore Country on Dec. 12.
The Falcons are making their second trip to the Bay Area this season and are hoping for similar results to the first. They beat Long Beach State 69-68 and routed Stanford 79-45 on Nov. 13-14 in the first two rounds of the CBE Classic at Stanford.
Those wins propelled Air Force into the championship round at Kansas City, where it lost to then-No. 9 Duke and beat Texas Tech.
The Falcons rely on their 3-point shooting, connecting at 45.0 percent to lead all Mountain West teams. They made a season-high 15 3-pointers in the win over Norfolk State and have hit 10 or more eight times this season.
Air Force shot a season-low 23.8 percent (5-of-21) from beyond the arc in its lone loss, 71-56 to Duke on Nov. 20.
Center Nick Welch is the only Air Force starter shooting below 44 percent on 3-pointers. Dan Nwaelele (57.4 percent), Jacob Burtschi (46.9), Tim Anderson (44.4) and Matt McCraw (44.0) round out the lineup for coach Jeff Bzdelik.
“That’s a major weapon of ours,” said Bzdelik, who regularly starts his practice sessions with a half hour of 3-point shooting. “It’s just a major part of the offense, being able to space the court, and that allows backdoor cuts and opportunities to drive, and good opportunities to post up.”
George Washington is hoping this trip West goes better than its last one, a 74-65 loss to Southern California on Dec. 9 in the Wooden Classic. The Colonials blew a 20-point lead in the second half.
The team bounced back three days later as Maureece Rice had 22 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double in the win over Maryland-Baltimore County. The 6-foot-1 guard had five rebounds or fewer in his first eight games of the season.
“That’s the first double-double of my college career, so I’m pretty excited about that,” Rice said.
The winner will face Colgate or Santa Clara in Friday’s championship.