Air Force Unable To Pull Off Upset Against No. 18 New Mexico
USAFA, Colo. - An inability to get to the free throw line proved the major difference for the Air Force women's basketball team, as it fell short in its quest to knock off MWC foe New Mexico, dropping the 59-54 contest at home to the Lobos, ranked 18th in the nation. With the loss, the Falcons fall to 10-7 on the season, with a 1-5 mark in the MWC, while New Mexico improves to 14-4, 4-1 in the league.
The Lobos took the early 3-0 lead in the contest after knocking down their first three-pointer of the contest, but a 9-0 spurt by Air Force put the Falcons back ahead of their nationally ranked visitors. New Mexico went back on top at the 12:18 mark in the first half with 11 unanswered points and attempted to keep Air Force at bay from that point on. However, with the Lobos' leading 28-21 just two minutes before the break, Air Force sophomore Pamela Findlay (Glenview, Ill.) helped spark another Falcon rally with her second trey of the afternoon. Topping off the final run before intermission was Falcon junior Dawn Higginbotham (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who grabbed a steal and brought the ball back down the court to tie the game at 30-30 at halftime.
The Falcons continued to pressure after the break, regaining the lead after trading baskets with New Mexico. The Lobos began to make their mark at their free throw line to once again resume control, but Air Force was not done fighting. The Falcons made another push, eventually going up 45-39 after a three by junior co-captain Letricia Castillo (Anchorage, Alaska). However, the Lobos continued to get to the charity stripe, outscoring the Falcons 12-2 over the final 3:52 of regulation, with 10 of those points coming from the foul line. Meanwhile, Air Force hit just 3-of-4 free throw attempts for the entire game.
Leading Air Force's balanced offense with 12 points each were Higginbotham and sophomore Alecia Steele (Oklahoma City, Okla.). Meanwhile junior captain Andrea Taylor (Sugar Grove, Ill.) did a fine job of running the Falcon offense, finishing with a career-best eight assists and just two turnovers.
For the Lobos, sophomore Dionne Marsh led the team with 21 points, while Brandi Kimble added 11 points.
The Falcons complete the first half of the Mountain West Conference slate next week, when they host in-state rival Colorado State on Thursday, Feb. 2, in a 7:00 p.m. contest.