LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS –
Air Force Information Operations Center mercy-ruled the 314th Military Battalion with three minutes to go in the game, winning 48-26 Feb. 19.
If a team is winning by more than 20 points with three minutes to go or less, the referees end the contest.
AFIOC shooting guard Vince Mingo scored a game-high 15 points, 11 of which came in the shortened second half.
AFIOC used a stifling man-to-man defense that created numerous turnovers and plenty of fast-break opportunities.
"We weren't necessarily trying to run a fast break," coach Chazz Buterbaugh said. "It was a byproduct of our defense. It all comes from defense. We got a lot of young guys. When you got a crew that can run like that, you use your horses when you can do so."
Mingo's outside shooting and slashing was complemented nicely by AFIOC power forward Paul Hartnett's inside presence. Hartnett finished the game with 13 points.
With 5:42 left in the first half, Hartnett grabbed a rebound, dribbled down the court and used a behind-the-back dribble to score on three defenders.
With 7 minutes to go in the second half, after AFIOC point guard Nick Campbell threw an errant pass, Hartnett stole the ball back. Finding no open teammates, Hartnett swished a fade away jumper.
Campbell finished the game with five points.
AFIOC led 26-8 at halftime.
"We have a lot of different options on offense," Buterbaugh said. "It really helps out a lot."
314th MI Bn made a push and cut the lead to 11 points with 11:22 left in the game but could not sustain that energy.
314th MI Bn point guard Aaron Dabny and shooting guard Jason Shade both finished the game with eight points.
With five minutes left in the second half, Dabny dribbled through the lane and was surrounded by three defenders. Seemingly out of options, he delivered a no-look pass to power forward Angelo Baxter for the easy score in traffic.
Still, the play of the game belonged to Mingo. With 13 minutes to go in the first half, Mingo elevated for a one-handed dunk after Campbell forced a turnover. Mingo scored eight points on fast-break opportunities alone.
Playoff competition begins Tuesday. The top four teams from both conferences will square off in a single elimination tournament.
With this victory, AFIOC earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament eight-team tournament.
"At any given time, any team can beat another team," said Buterbough. "I told the guys before the game that we had to take this seriously and tonight we came out with some intensity and used this game as a way to get rolling into the playoffs."