By Jerry Cross
Grant Parker scored 25 points and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds to lead Air Force past Charleston Southern, 68-58, Saturday night in a non-conference game in Clune Arena at the Air Force Academy.
Parker scored 10 points in a 20-8 Air Force run to open the second half as the Falcons took their biggest lead of the game, 48-32, with 12:33 remaining in the game. Charleston Southern used full-court pressure to keep the game within reach and got as close as seven points, 63-56, with 46 seconds remaining. The Falcons hit five of eight free throws from that point to close out the game.
Parker’s first-career double-double couldn’t have come at a better time for the Falcons, who played without starting center Sammy Schafer and top reserve forward Taylor Broekhuis, who both missed the game due to injuries.
Reserve forward Tom Fow chipped in with 13 points and six rebounds while hitting four of eight field goals, including three of six from three-point range. Fow figured prominently in the 20-8 run to open the half, adding six points.
Fow also helped key a late first half run. The Falcons dug themselves out of a hole, closing with a 15-2 run over the last 7:20 to take a 28-26 halftime lead. Fow helped key the run with five points, while Avery Merriex added six points. Charleston Southern had taken its biggest lead of the half, 22-13, with 7:56 remaining before the run.
Air Force finished the game hitting 39.6 percent from the field, but hit 45 percent from three-point range on nine of 20 shooting. The Falcons hit 21 of 34 from the free throw line. Evan Washington added eight points, six rebounds and a career-high seven assists with just one turnover in a game-high 37 minutes.
Charleston Southern was held to just 33.3 percent shooting, including a nine-of-31 clip from three-point range. The Falcons also out-rebounded the Buccaneers, 43-40, and had 15 assists and just 10 turnovers. Jamarco Warren
led Charleston Southern with 18 points. Kelvin Martin added 14 points and nine rebounds.
Air Force, which hosts North Carolina Central on Wednesday, Dec. 2, improves to 3-1 on the season while Charleston Southern falls to 3-2.
Academy senior forward Grant Parker looks for the open man as Western State defenders Weylan Towns and Tyler Miller attempt to regain control of the ball in the season opener Nov. 13, in Clune Arena. Photo by Rachel Boettcher