Falcons Host New Mexico In MWC Action


    The Air Force women's basketball team welcomes New Mexico to Clune Arena on Thursday, Feb. 10, for its lone game of the week. The Falcons (7-13, 2-5) will face the Lobos at 7:00 p.m. to kick off the second half of its season slate.


    Last Time Out...
    The Falcons went 1-1 at home last week, falling to Colorado State, 63-42, Thursday evening before knocking off Wyoming, 69-66, in overtime on Saturday.

    Against the Rams, Air Force led 9-8 midway through the first half, but was outscored 19-5 to end the half. Colorado State, which shot over 68 percent from the field in the final period, put together another big run in the second half to run away with the win. The Falcons also trailed at halftime against Wyoming, but responded with a huge second half. After wiping away its 12-point deficit, Air Force took its first lead of the game with a free throw by Alecia Steele at the 1:25 mark. The Falcons led by three points in the last 20 seconds of regulation, but Wyoming's Kristen Lenhardt hit a three-pointer with 10 seconds on the clock to force the third overtime of the season for Air Force. In the extra period, Lauren Henderson scored the last five points for the Falcons as Air Force escaped with the three-point win.


    Scouting the Lobos...
    New Mexico enters this week's contest with a 17-3 record and is tied for first place in the Mountain West with a 6-1 record. The Lobos notched a pair of home wins over Wyoming and Colorado State last week, defeating the Cowgirls 62-49 before capturing a 75-49 victory over the Rams.

    The Lobos are led in scoring by Dionne Marsh and Lindsay Arndt, who average 10.5 and 10.3 points per game, respectively. Arndt is also the team's top rebounder at 6.4 boards per game, while Mandi Moore ranks second in the MWC with 5.4 assists per game.


    Last Time Vs. The Lobos...
    Although the Falcons took a 36-33 lead into the half against New Mexico earlier this season in Albuquerque, the Lobos began to heat up in the second half, earning a 72-58 win over Air Force.

    A 10-0 New Mexico run in the second half put the Lobos up for good, as the Falcons were able to hit just 3-of-26 (.115) from the field in the second half. On the positive side, the Falcons committed just seven turnovers in the game, the lowest in Air Force's Division I history.

    Alecia Steele led the Falcons with 15 points, nine of which came from the free throw line, while Jennifer Roesch added 10 points, all in the first half. Letricia Castillo finished with nine points, while freshman Lauren Henderson had six points, four rebounds and dished out eight assists without committing a turnover.

    For the Lobos, Mandi Moore, Lindsay Arndt and Jana Francis all had 12 points each.


    How They Rate...
    New Mexico ranks first in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 49.8 points per game. The Lobos also lead the Mountain West in scoring margin (+15.1), field goal percentage defense (.346), blocks (4.55 pg) and assist/turnover ratio (1.12).


    Top Defense...
    In addition to leading the Mountain West in scoring defense, New Mexico ranks second in the nation in the same category, trailing only Connecticut, which allows just 49.5 points per game.

    The 58 points scored by the Falcons in The Pit last month were the most allowed by New Mexico in a win. Only three teams--Texas, Minnesota and UNLV--have scored more than 58 points against the Lobos and all have resulted in New Mexico losses.


    Making History...
    With seven total wins this season, the Falcons have tied an Air Force Division I record for the highest single-season win total. The Falcons also notched seven wins during the 2002-03 season.

    In addition, the win over Wyoming gave the Falcons another record--for most MWC wins in a single-season. In its first five years in the Mountain West, Air Force had won just two conference games and had never won more than one league game since moving up to Division I.


    Going Into OT...
    The home contest against Wyoming was the third overtime game of the season for the Falcons', who lost their first two overtimes games--a 74-73 loss to Montana State in the season-opener and a 80-78 defeat by San Diego in December. Air Force now holds an 11-8 all-time record in overtime games.


    Another First...
    Air Force's win over Wyoming on Saturday was its first since joining the Division I ranks in 1996-97 and only its second-ever. The last time the Falcons defeated the Cowgirls was during the 1985-86 season, when Air Force notched an 89-78 victory in its home opener.


    Fabulous Frosh...
    With seven freshmen on the Air Force roster, it isn't surprising that the Falcons' win over Wyoming could be attributed to the big-time play of its rookies.

    One of the primary sparks against the Cowgirls on Saturday was freshman Ashley Mickens, who scored a career-high nine points, all in the second half, and grabbed a career-high eight rebounds. Mickens was active on both ends of the court, playing aggressive defense while remaining active on the offensive end, where she grabbed six of her rebounds.

    Fellow rookie Ellen Jaeschke was also a huge spark coming off the bench, scoring 10 points. Jaeschke also came up with a pair of huge blocks during the Falcons' second-half spurt and grabbed a crucial steal to keep the momentum going Air Force's way.

    In addition, freshmen Lauren Henderson and Alecia Steele, permanent fixtures in the starting lineup, performed well against Wyoming, each scoring a team-high 15 points. Henderson added eight assists with just one turnover, and scored the last five points for the Falcons in overtime to seal the victory. Meanwhile, Steele finished just short of her fifth double-double of the season, grabbing a team-leading nine rebounds. She also capped off most of the Falcons' scoring runs in the second half and gave Air Force its first lead of the game with just 1:25 remaining in regulation.


    No Foul...
    The Falcons committed a season-low 12 fouls against Colorado State on Thursday, while the Rams fouled just 15 times. As a result, the two teams combined for just 15 free throw attempts, including a season-low four for Air Force. Freshman Alecia Steele was the only Falcon to get to the foul line against Colorado State, hitting just 2-of-4 on the evening.


    Trying To Score...
    Air Force tied its lowest first-half scoring output of the season against Colorado State, getting just 14 points in the opening period. Both teams struggled a bit to start before the Rams went on a 19-5 to close the half.


    Henderson Helps Out...
    Freshman point guard Lauren Henderson dished out a career-high eight assists in the loss to New Mexico--impressive enough without considering that she did not commit a single turnover. Seven of her eight assists came in the first half, where the Falcons led most of the way.

    Henderson matched that assist total in the win over Wyoming, while committing just one turnover in the game.

    In conference games alone, Henderson ranks second in assists (5.3 pg), trailing only Utah's Shona Thorburn.


    Block Party...
    Air Force has been blocking shots much more effectively than it has in the past, already recording 65 blocks in the first 20 games of the season. In comparison, the Falcons notched just 43 blocks during the entire 2003-04 season (28 games). Air Force is just one block away from matching its single-season record at the Division I level.

    Freshman Ellen Jaeschke, who leads the team with 24 blocks, recorded four blocks in the win over Navy, just one shy of Air Force's Division I single-game record. Jaeschke's 24 blocks rank tied for seventh on Air Force's single-season blocks list.
     

     

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