March 10, 2004
DENVER, Colo. - An upset-minded Air Force women's basketball team lost 63-50 to top-seeded New Mexico in the first game of the Mountain West Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo. The Falcons, who entered the game as the eighth seed, battled and kept the game close throughout but the Lobos held on for the victory.
New Mexico won its ninth straight game to improve to 21-7 on the season. The Lobos continue their hunt for a second conference tournament championship Friday when they play fifth-seeded Wyoming at noon. The Cowgirls upset No. 4 seed Colorado State 67-61 on Thursday.
"We competed with a great team," said head coach Ardie McInelly. "If we would have played this hard all season, we would have won some league games."
After making their first field goal attempt, the Falcons missed their next eight shots and minutes into the game trailed by nine points. They refused to give up however, never letting the deficit slip into double digits. They cut the lead down to four points and after several defensive stops, Letricia Castillo hit a driving lay up to make it a two-point game with just over five minutes left in the half. New Mexico would never surrender the lead, clinging to a four-point edge at the break.
After a slow start to the second half, back-to-back three pointers by Andrea Taylor, Shawna Neff and Amoy Jackson cut the early second half New Mexico lead down to three. The Lobos then took control of the tempo and started using their size advantage by going inside. They went on a 12-0 run to give the team some breathing room. Air Force never recovered from that run and the Lobos notched the 13-point victory.
New Mexico finished the game shooting 43.6 percent (24-of-55) from the field. Melissa Forest led all scorers with a career-high 27 points, and Lindsey Arndt added 14 points for the Lobos. Abbie Letz had 12 points and seven rebounds. The Lobos notched a Mountain West tournament record 10 blocks against an undersized Falcon team. All 10 blocks came in the first half to break the previous record of seven.
Air Force finished the game shooting 31.7 percent (19-of-60) from the field. They continued to struggle at the free throw line, as they have all season. They finished the game shooting 5-of-10 (50 percent) from the line. Castillo led the Falcons with 12 points and Amoy Jackson chipped in 10 points. Shawna Neff and Briana Thomas led the team with seven rebounds each.
The Falcons, who have never won a tournament game, finished the season 3-25 overall and 0-14 in the conference. The team tied an Academy all-time record for fewest wins in a season with three. They will lose three seniors to graduation - Amoy Jackson, Shawna Neff and Janea Childress.