Falcons Set To Host UCCS In Cross-Town Match-up
After a nine-day break for exams, Air Force returns to action this week, hosting cross-town foe UCCS in a non-conference tilt on Thursday, Dec. 22. Game time is slated for 12:00 p.m.
A radio broadcast of the Air Force-UCCS game will be available locally on The Sports Animal 1300 AM. Subscribers to "Bolt Action", a feature of AirForceSports.com, will also be able to access the broadcast. Jay Ritchie, in his 19th season of airing Air Force athletics, will handle play-by-play duties.
• Air Force is coached by Ardie McInelly (Boise State, 1982), who is in her fifth year at the helm of the Falcons' program. She has compiled an overall record of 27-93 while at the Academy and holds a career record of 104-155 (10th year).
• UCCS is coached by Jessika Stratton (Baylor, 2004), in her first year as head coach of the Mountain Lions. Stratton has compiled a mark of 2-6 in her first coaching stint.
• Air Force leads the all-time series against UCCS, 9-4. The meeting between the two teams was a 60-50 Falcon victory on Nov. 21, 1999.
Scouting the Falcons...
Air Force lost its second consecutive home game last week, falling to Denver, 65-59, to drop to 6-2 on the season. Sophomore Alecia Steele notched 14 points, all in the second half, and seven rebounds in the game, while Pamela Findlay (11 points) and Andrea Taylor (10 points) joined her in double figures.
On the season, Findlay, shooting 50 percent from the field and three-point range, paces the Falcons with 12.3 points per game while Steele has 10.5 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds per contest.
Scouting the Mountain Lions...
With a pair of conference road losses last weekend, UCCS fell to 2-6 on the season, dropping to Regis, 66-53, and Metro State, 72-61. Against Regis, Jennine Sauter led the team with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while she finished with 21 points and nine rebounds versus Metro State. Julie Richards also recorded a double-double against Metro State with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Sauter leads the Mountain Lions on the season with 22.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, while Richards is also averaging double figures with 15.6 points per contest.
Air Force's contest with UCCS is the second of four straight home games--its longest home stand of the year--to close out the Falcons' non-conference slate.
Following this week's game, the Falcons will get a short holiday break before taking on service academy rival Army on Dec. 29 and will wrap up the calendar year with a game against in-state foe Western State on Dec. 31.
A Birthday Wish...
While a few Falcons had birthdays last week--Ashley Mickens turned 21 on Dec. 15, while Jamie Davis celebrated her 20th birthday on Dec. 17--junior co-captain Letricia Castillo will look to celebrate her birthday with a victory, as she turns 21 on Thursday when Air Force takes on UCCS. It marks the second straight season that Castillo has played on her birthday. Last year, the Falcons dropped a heartbreaking 80-78 decision to San Diego in overtime on Dec. 22.
In addition to Castillo, two other Falcons are slated to play on their respective birthdays. Freshman Chasmine Jones will celebrate her 20th birthday (Feb. 2) on the road at Colorado State, while Utah comes to town on the day that junior Jacki Novak turns 21 (Feb. 18).
How We Rate...
In the latest conference statistics released Dec. 19, Air Force found itself ranked at the top or near the top in several categories. The Falcons lead the MWC in free throw percentage (.791) and rebounding defense (33.0 pg). Meanwhile, Air Force ranks second in scoring offense (70.4 ppg), three-point field goal percentage (.362), rebounding margin (+9.1) and offensive rebounds (16.25 pg).
In addition, several Falcons rank among the conference's top-10 individual leaders in various categories:
3Pt. FG Pct.
A National Leader...
Demonstrating a complete turnaround from the 2004-05 season, when the Falcons finished last in the MWC in free throw percentage at .644, Air Force currently leads the nation in free-throw percentage with .791.
The Falcons also are rated in the top 25 nationally in rebound margin, checking in at 21st with +9.1 rebounds per game.
They Didn't Come Free...
Although the Falcons are currently the top free-throw shooting team in the nation, Air Force hit just 50 percent from the line against Denver, shooting a season-low 2-of-4 from the line. The Falcons' previous season low in free throw attempts was 10 at Weber State.
EJ's Block Party...
Sophomore Ellen Jaeschke continued to prove her value as a shot blocker in last week's contest against Denver, recording a career-best five blocked shots in the game. The total ties a school Division I single-game record for an individual, set by Carrie Carrow in 1996 and matched by Alison Butler in 2003.
Interestingly enough, Butler is currently a member of the Denver squad, but did not see action against the Falcons last week.
What A Start...
Despite falling to 6-2 with its loss to Denver, Air Force still continues its best start ever as a Division I team. The Falcons are also in the midst of their best start since the 1991-92 season, when the team ended the year with a 21-7 overall ledger.
The Falcons' four straight wins to begin the season also mark the team's longest winning streak as a Division I team.
In the Record Books...
Letricia Castillo continues to move up in the record books in more than one category. The junior currently sits in 26th place on the career scoring list with 694 points and could break into the top 15 by year's end. In addition, Castillo is also sixth and seventh in career three-point field goals made and attempted, respectively.
Meanwhile, sophomore Ellen Jaeschke, who has four blocks on the season, recently moved into seventh place on the list of career blocked shots with 39.
The Falcons wrap up their non-conference slate with a pair of home games next week, first facing service academy rival Army on Thursday, Dec. 29, with a 1:00 p.m. contest, before taking on Western State at 2:00 p.m. on Dec. 31.