Air Force Set To Meet Illinois State, Boise State
The Air Force women's basketball team continues its stretch of five games in 13 days this week when it hosts Illinois State on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 7:00 p.m. in Clune Arena. The Falcons then hit the road once more, traveling to Boise State for a 7:00 p.m. contest on Friday, Dec. 10.
Last Time Out...
The Falcons (2-4) are coming off a difficult home loss to Utah State on Saturday. Despite trailing by as many as 16 points in the second half, Air Force rallied in the final four and a half minutes, putting together a 15-3 run, getting within three points. However, the Falcons were unable to pull off the come-from-behind victory, falling 72-68. Freshman Alecia Steele notched her fourth-straight double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds to lead Air Force.
In its previous contest, Air Force picked up a 68-61 road victory over Portland. Sophomore captain Letricia Castillo scored 14 of her game-high 16 points in the first half, powering the Falcons to their first road win since January 2003.
Scouting the Redbirds...
Illinois State is 1-4 on the season, its lone victory an 83-74 home win over Ball State on Dec. 1.
The Redbirds have three scorers averaging in double-digits, led by Katie Donovan with 17.2 points per game. Megan McCracken averages 12.5 ppg, while Jaci McCormack is adding 11.0 ppg. Holly Hallstrom is Illinois State's top rebounder with 6.0 boards per contest, while Donovan leads the team in assists with 5.0 per game.
Scouting the Broncos...
Boise State is currently 1-2 on the season and will meet in-state rival Idaho State Monday evening before hosting the Falcons. The Broncos registered a 68-33 victory over Portland State in its last outing.
Leading the Broncos' offense this season is Tasha Harris with 14.0 points per game, while Jamie Hawkins averages 11.0 points per contest. Cariann Ramirez is Boise State's top rebounder with 6.3 boards per game, while Cassidy Blaine is dishing out 4.7 assists per contest.
This week Air Force will meet both Illinois State and Boise State for the second time. Both opposing schools are 1-0 against the Falcons, each winning last season.
There's a Connection...
The Falcons' opponent on Tuesday night is extremely familiar to at least one Air Force staff member. Associate head coach Lisa Robinson spent the majority of her coaching career at Illinois State, serving as an assistant coach from 1983 to 1995. She was then promoted to associate head coach in 1995 and served in that capacity until 1998.
Friday's contest against Boise State will be a homecoming for Air Force head coach Ardie McInelly, as she returns to her alma mater. The 1981 graduate will coach against her alma mater for the seventh time and holds a 2-4 record against Boise State as a head coach.
This weekend, McInelly will also see her Falcons use the same facility she once played in, Bronco Gym. Boise State's regular home facility, Taco Bell Arena, is being used for another event this week, making it necessary for the team to utilize Bronco Gym for a varsity basketball game for the first time since 1982.
With a pair of double-doubles in the Northern Arizona Thanksgiving Tournament, freshman Alecia Steele became the first Falcon to record a double-double since Shawna Neff had 14 points and 10 rebounds against Army on Jan. 2, 2004. Neff recorded the only Air Force double-double in the 2003-04 season. Steele has gone on to register four consecutive double-doubles, recording 13 points and 10 rebounds in the victory over Portland, followed by a 13-point, 13-rebound performance against Utah State.
Sophomore center Jacki Novak made her season debut against Utah State on Saturday, recording four points, four rebounds and a block in 10 minutes of action. Novak missed the first five games of the regular season after breaking her hand in the first exhibition game of the year.
How We Rate...
In the conference statistics released Dec. 5, Air Force was ranked among the league's leaders in rebounding and blocked shots. As a team, the Falcons are ranked second in the MWC in rebounds (43.7pg) and offensive rebounds (18.33 pg), while rating third in rebounding margin (+8.5), blocks (3.67 pg) and steals (9.5 pg).
Meanwhile, several Falcons rank among the conference's top 10 leaders in various categories:
Alecia Steele T10 12.0
Ellen Jaeschke T6 .500
Pamela Findlay 10 .474
Alecia Steele T2 9.8
Alecia Steele 1 4.17
Alecia Steele 6 5.67
Lauren Henderson 3 5.0
Jennifer Roesch T6 2.0
3PT FG Pct.
Pamela Findlay 3 .500
Ellen Jaeschke 2 2.0
One For The Road...
The Falcons' victory over Portland last week marked the team's first road win since January 9, 2003. That day Air Force captured a 64-61 win over Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas.
Crashing The Boards...
The Falcons have been aggressive on the boards, averaging 43.7 rebounds per game and holding a +8.5 rebounding margin over their opponents. Air Force has been particularly impressive on the offensive glass, with 110 offensive boards.
Leading the Falcons in getting to the glass is Alecia Steele, with 9.8 boards per game.
Air Force has been blocking shots much more effectively than it has in the past, recording 22 blocks in the first six games. In comparison, the Falcons notched just 43 blocks during the entire 2003-04 season (28 games).
Freshman Ellen Jaeschke has been impressive with her shot blocking ability, recording more than half of the team's 22 blocks. Her 12 blocks are three more than the total of the Falcons' season leader a year ago.
Off The Bench...
The Falcons have gotten incredible production from their bench this season, with non-starters averaging 26.8 points per game. Air Force's bench has been outscored just twice this season, in the losses to New Mexico State and Utah State
The Falcons have been fairly balanced in terms of playing time this season, with no player averaging more than 27.8 minutes per game. Just five players (Alecia Steele, Letricia Castillo, Lauren Henderson, Jennifer Roesch and Ellen Jaeschke) average more than 20 minutes per game, while six others see between 10 and 20 minutes of action per contest.