Utah Survives Scare From Air Force
Air Force ignored the numbers. Coming into the game, the Falcons had lost all seven previous meetings with Utah by an average marginof 43 points. Less than a week ago, Utah beat Air Force 80-33 in Salt Lake City.
But in the opening round the eighth seeded Falcons gave top-seeded Utah all it could handle and more.
ShaNekia Peebles banged a three-pointer to give Air Force its first lead of the game, 48-47, with 4:05 left. Following free throws by Herbert, Peebles hit another jumper to put Air Force in front, 50-49, with 3:20 left. Beckman then hit a pair of jumpers in the lane, the first with 2:59 remaining to put the Utes ahead for good, 51-50. Air Force's last chance failed when freshman Shawna Neff missed a jumper with four seconds left and Brooke Bauer's desperation three-pointer missed badly as time expired.
The game didn't resemble a match up between an undefeated conference team and a winless one. The Falcons stayed with the Utes the entire game. Utah used a 10-3 run late in the first stanza to take its biggest lead of the game, 25-14, with 3:10 remaining. Air Force answered with eight straight points to cut the lead to three, 25-22, with 17 seconds left before Whitney Sutak added a basket in the closing seconds to make up the halftime margin.
Utah finished the game hitting 57.1 percent from the field and out-rebounded Air Force, 24-20. Amy Ewert scored four points and added a game-high seven assists for the Utes, who improved to 26-2 overall. Utah finished the game with 28 points in the paint.
Neff led the Falcons with 15 points while Peebles added 12. Amoy Jackson chipped in with nine points for Air Force, who finished the game hitting 40.4 percent from the field. The loss ends Air Force's season at 3-25 overall as the team dropped its 15th consecutive decision overalland eighth straight to Utah.
"I was really proud of the way the kids bounced back after a 47-point loss
less than a week ago," Air Force head coach Sue Darling. "This is a tough
loss, but I'm so proud of the effort. This was not a fluke, we expected to be
in the game because we had a few great days of preparations."