Eighth-seed Air Force women’s basketball rolled to a convincing 68-54 over ninth-seed Utah State in the opening game of the 2018 Mountain West Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament. The Falcons move on to face top-seed Boise State tomorrow afternoon.
Air Force (6-24) hit 10 of its first 12 shots in the first quarter, good for 83.3 percent shooting and raced out to a commanding 24-14 lead after the first quarter. The Falcons kept it going, taking a 35-24 lead at the half.
The Falcons kept the pressure on Utah State (7-23) in the second-half, out-scoring the Aggies 21-14 in the third quarter to build up to a 56-38 lead. Air Force was able to hold off Utah State in the fourth quarter, emptying the bench late in the game.
The All-Mountain West Freshman Team duo of Emily Conroe and Kaelin Immel led the Falcons with 18 points each and senior Dee Bennett scored a season-high 14 points. Conroe was 8 of 13 from the field, connecting on a pair of three-point baskets as well. Immel, who was name the 2017-18 Mountain West Freshman of the Year earlier in the day, was 4 of 11 from the field and a perfect 8 of 8 from the free throw line. Bennett also registered seven rebounds and two steals.
Senior Cortney Porter scored six points and had a game-high nine assists. Junior Venessanna Itugbu had four blocked shots.
Air Force continues to play its best basketball late, having won three in a row and four of its last five. The Falcons have its first three-game win streak since 2005.
Air Force shot a season-best 52 percent from the field and set a team record at the MW tournament with 20 assists and 13 steals.
“Getting a tournament win was definitely on the goal list for this year, and we’ve been able to check off most of our goals,” Air Force head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “We wanted a signature win and we wanted to get a win at the conference tournament. We have been getting better and better every single week. We’re playing our best right now.”
Olivia West led Utah State with 13 points. Eliza West added 12 points and Rachel Brewster 11.
Notes: Conroe moved into second place for most points by a freshman at Air Force in the Div. I era with 343 points...Air Force set school records at the MW Championships for most points (68), assists (20), steals (13)...Porters nine assists and Itugbu’s four blocks are also Air Force MW tournament records...Air Force is now 3-18 all-time at the MW Championships, having won in 2007 and 2011...Air Force will tie a school record with its 31st game of the season tomorrow against Boise State...Cortney Porter has tied the Air Force record for most games played at 119.