Game 14: Air Force vs. New Mexico
Saturday -- Jan. 13 -- 2:00 p.m. MST
SITE: Clune Arena (6,002) USAF, Colo.
RADIO: KNML, 610 a.m. (Albuquer-que only.) The game can also be heard via
the Internet at:
Andrew Paul, Broadcaster
The game against New Mexico will be the Falcons' first Mountain West
Conference game of the season. The Falcons are 1-48 in their previous 49
conference games. Their last conference win came against San Diego State in
January of last year.
The Falcons are 3-10, while New Mexico is 9-6.
Air Force is coached by Sue Darling (Arizona, 1983). This is Darling's third
year as head coach of the Falcons. She compiled a 9-45 record in her first
New Mexico is coached by Don Flanagan (Fort Lewis, 1971). Flanagan is in his
sixth season with the Lobos. He has compiled a 100-50 record.
This game will mark the seventh time these teams have met. The Lobos
hold a 6-1 edge in those games. New Mexico defeated the Falcons twice last
year, including an 84-42 win at The Pit. The Falcons lone victory came in
1991 when they handed New Mexico a 61-42 defeat.
Scouting the Lobos
The 9-6 Lobos are coming off a three-point loss at home to Utah. The loss
snapped a four-game home win streak.
UNM has been led in the early going by sophomore center Jordan Adams who has
a team-high 15.9 ppg and 6.5 rpg (which ranks third and seventh
respectively, in the MWC stats). Adams has scored in double figures in 14
straight games and is also averaging 2.8 blocks per game. She ranks fourth
in the nation in the NCAA.
Senior forward Miranda Sanchez is also averaging double figures at 11.5 ppg
while junior guard Molly McKinnon checks in at 11.0 ppg. Senior guard Nikki
Heckroth is the floor general, averaging 5.7 assists per game, and has been
ranked as high as 21st nationally in the nation for assists earlier this
year. UNM's strength as a team has been its defense, and the Lobos are
allowing foes just 59.7 ppg and 36.1% from the field.
Following the game against New Mexico, the Falcons will have two more
critical Mountain West games at home -- against UNLV and San Diego State.
Probable Starting Line-Ups
Air Force's Probable Starters
# Name Pos Ht Yr
11 Morgan Bennett G 5-9 So.
22 Ali Tomlinson G 5-6 Jr.
25 Rozalyn Russ F 5-8 Jr.
32 Wendy Stillman C 6-1 So.
34 Samantha Clifton F 5-11 Jr.
New Mexico's Probable Starters
# Name Pos Ht Yr
44 Nikki Heckroth G 5-8 Sr.
12 Molly McKinnon G 5-8 Jr.
30 Chelsea Grear F 5-10 So.
21 Miranda Sanchez F 6-1 Sr.
40 Jordan Adams C 6-3 So.
Coach Darling on Cal Poly
We worked a lot on boxing out on rebounds and it paid off. These are kids
who are determined to win. I think they stayed aggressive. They changed
their attitude to playing to win instead of playing not to lose. They got up
on Navy and played not to lose and it cost us. Today, they got the lead and
didn't let up. As a coach, you got to like that.
Key to Success
The key to the Falcons success in conference action will be their scoring
output. Against Penn, Air Force managed just 10 first-half points, and
against Navy, the Falcons scored six points in the second half -- a new team
record for fewest points in a half. In those two games, the Falcons were
29-96 (.302 percent). Air Force then turned it around scored a season-high
86 points against Cal Poly.
The team lost seniors Megan Thiedeman and Mollie Peters, who accounted for
65 percent of Air Force's scoring last season. Rozalyn Russ and Morgan
Bennett are both averaging in double figures, but Bennett is suffering
lately, having gone five of 22 from the field in the previous three games.
Rewriting the Record Books
The Falcons' 86 points against Cal Poly was a new Air Force Division I
record for most points in a game. Five players were in double figures in
The record is particular remarkable considering the Falcons were coming off
a half where they totaled just six points. In its previous game against
Navy, Air Force finished the game with 38 points. They had 39 at the half
against Cal Poly.
Samantha Clifton saw her first action of the season against Army. Clifton,
who had been sidelined with an ankle injury for the teams first six games,
played 10 minutes in the loss.
Clifton has made an immediate impact for the Falcons. Against Lafayette,
Clifton led the team in rebounding with seven boards. Clifton is third on
the team in rebounding, averaging 3.4 per game. In just seven games, she has
three blocks, second best on the team.
The Falcons snapped its eight-game losing streak with a victory over Cal
Poly. Their current conference losing streak is at 13 games.
Roz From Downtown
Rozalyn Russ was 6-7 from the three-point line against Lafayette. Not only
was the six treys a career high for Russ, her 85.7 percentage from downtown
ranks fourth best in the country in a single game (minimum six made). Russ
scored 23 points in the loss, her career best.
The Falcons set another Division I record regarding fouls -- their fourth
record this season. Against Army, the Falcons were whistled for 33 fouls,
the team high since moving to Division I. The overall team record is 36 vs.
Northern Colorado in 1982.
Against Fullerton, the two teams had 60 combined fouls -- a new Air Force
Division I record. Over half the Falcons' points in the Fullerton victory
came on free throws, as the team was 36 of 54 from the charity stripe.
Fullerton committed 34 personal fouls in the game, while the Falcons were
whistled 26 times.
Rozalyn Russ also set records at the line against Fullerton. Her 15 free
throws made and 21 free throws attempted are new all-time records for Air
Of the 13 players on the Falcons' roster, seven of them were not on the team
last season. Ali Tomlinson, a junior, leads the group of newcomers.
Tomlinson played for the Falcons as a freshman, but did not play last
season. A starting point guard, Tomlinson brings speed and intensity to the
team. Junior Brooke Bauer joins the squad after spending two seasons at
junior varsity. She adds depth at the post position. The remaining five
newcomers are all freshman. Janea Childress joins the team after spending a
season at the Academy's prep school. Amoy Jackson, a guard, and Shawna Neff,
a forward, are the Falcons' top recruits. They looked solid in the team's
exhibition games. Dorothy Albright and Erica Palmer round out the Falcons'
freshman class. They should get solid minutes off the bench.
Bang Those Boards
Of all the statistical categories, the one that may best indicate why the
Falcons are just 3-10 is rebounding. They Falcons are getting outrebounded
by 13 rebounds per game. In the team's 13 games, the Falcons have
out-rebound their opponent just once -- in their 18-point victory over Cal
Falcons' starting forward and team captain Rozalyn Russ has connections with
the eXtreme Football League. Her brother Steve Russ was selected by the Los
Angeles Xtreme in the inaugural XFL draft. Steve played in the NFL for a
number of years before Los Angeles made him their second pick overall.
Nothing But Neff
Freshman Shawna Neff has come off the bench to give the Falcons quality
minutes. Neff scored her first career points, knocking down a three-pointer
and a 10-foot jump shot. Against Southern Utah, Neff scored a career-high 10
points, marking the first time she hit double figures in scoring. Against
Navy, Neff was the team's high scorer with eight points.
Broken Finger and All
Playing with a broken thumb, Morgan Bennett had seven steals against Navy.
Not only was it a career high for Bennett, who broke the finger against
Penn, but it also ties an Air Force Division I record for most steals in a
Losing Streaks End
Air Force snapped an eight-game losing streak with its victory over Cal
Poly. It was the second streak snapped this season. When Air Force defeated
Fullerton in California, the team snapped its 19-game road losing streak.
The Falcons did not win on the road last season, and had not won a road game
in over a year. Their previous road win had been against San Jose State on
Jan. 4, 1999.
Fans who watched the Falcons' season opener may have been wondering what
happened to the deep shot. The Falcons did not attempt a three-pointer in
the first half. Compare that to last season, when the team averaged eight
trey attempts per game. No worries. The team is currently averaging over 19
three-point attempts per game, 10 more per game than last year. And this is
without the Falcons' all-time leader in three-point attempts, Megan
Thiedeman, who graduated last year.
The Falcons attempted 32 three-pointers in their loss to Southern Utah, one
shy of tying a record. The most three-pointers attempted in a game for Air
Force is 33, against Colorado State last season. Last season, Air Force had
30+ trey attempts just three times.
Holding onto the Rock
Through eight games, the Falcons are averaging 20.25 turnovers per game.
Last season the team averaged 20.1 turnovers per game. In losses to Denver,
Baylor and Lafayette, the Falcons have given it up 68 times combined. Their
best game in controlling the ball was against Penn, when the team had just 8
When Samantha Clifton was held out of the starting lineup due to injury,
Amoy Jackson was called upon to make her first career start against Denver.
She played well, scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds in 27
minutes. Against Fullerton, Jackson scored 10 points, marking the first time
in her career she hit double figures in scoring. Jackson has looked very
impressive and is one of the most athletic players to come to the Academy.
In practice, she demonstrates her leaping ability by touching the rim. Once
she overcomes the freshman jitters, she will be a dominating force.
First Career Points
Junior Brooke Bauer scored her first career points against Fullerton,
knocking down two free throws. Janea Childress scored her first points
against North Texas, going 4-5 from the field, including two three-pointers.
Childress was the Falcons' high scorer in the game.
For the second year in a row, the Falcons have a two-sport athlete on their
roster. Freshman Erica Palmer joins the squad after spending the fall
playing on the Academy's soccer team. Last season, Morgan Bennett also
played soccer, but chose to focus on basketball this year. also played for
the Falcons' soccer team.
For the first time in 18 years, sisters will take the court on the same
women's team. Sisters Sarah and Dorothy Albright will join each other on the
court for the Falcons' varsity squad. Sarah, a junior, played on the varsity
squad last season. Dorothy, a freshman, was expected to play junior varsity
this season but was impressive in tryouts. The last sisters to play for the
Falcons were Stacy and Martha Brodzik in 1982.
Freshmen Kaitlin Mandelkow and Melonie San Pietro left the team for