USAFA, Colo. – The Air Force women’s basketball team won its first game of the season in dramatic fashion, earning an 82-78 overtime victory over CSU Bakersfield Thursday evening in Clune Arena. With the Falcons trailing 69-66 in the waning moments of the second half, junior Cherae Medina (Denver, Colo.) hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into the extra period.
Medina, who scored five more points in overtime, finished the game with a career-high 15 points. Senior Alicia Leipprandt (Ubly, Mich.) added 21 points, while Katie Hilbig (Castle Rock, Colo.) and Dymond James (Brambleton, Va.) scored 12 and 11 points, respectively. Hilbig and James also added nine rebounds each to lead Air Force on the boards.
It was a game of runs, with the Falcons outscoring the Roadrunners 10-2 in the first five minutes and taking a 16-5 advantage with 10:27 to play in the first half. However, CSU Bakersfield (2-8) responded with 12 straight points to earn their first lead of the game, eventually going into the locker room with a 26-21 advantage.
After the break, the Roadrunners were able to push their lead to nine points before Air Force began chipping away at the margin. The Falcons outscored CSU Bakersfield 18-6 over a six-minute stretch to gain a 43-40 advantage, but again, the Roadrunners responded, going on a 15-2 run to take a nine-point lead with just under five minutes remaining.
Air Force (1-9) made another push down the stretch, and with back-to-back three-pointers from Medina and Jimi Blagowsky (So., Edmond, Okla.), cut the margin to 61-58 with 2:27 on the clock. The Falcons came up with steals on the next two CSUB possessions and hit free throws to tie the game with just under two minutes to play, but the Roadrunners scored the next five points and held a 68-63 advantage with 17 seconds remaining in regulation.
With 8.4 seconds on the clock, Leipprandt converted on a three-point play to bring Air Force back within two points. After a quick foul by the Falcons, CSU Bakersfield made the first of two free throws on the other end and Air Force was able to call a timeout with six seconds remaining to set up Medina’s game-tying shot.
In the overtime period, Air Force again found itself trailing by five points, as the Roadrunners took a 75-70 lead with 3:23 on the clock. However, Leipprandt converted on another three-point play to get back within two, while Medina knocked down her third trey of the game to give Air Force a 78-77 lead with 1:45 remaining. While a CSUB free throw tied the score once more, Medina added another basket with a minute left. James knocked down a pair of free throws in the final seconds as the Falcons were able to hold on for the win.
Air Force, which missed all six of its free throws in the first half, ended strong at the charity stripe, knocking down 11 of their last 13 foul shots. The Falcons also dished out a season-high 24 assists, just one short of the program’s Division I single-game record, with Medina and Hilbig each registering five assists to lead the team.
The Falcons now have a long winter break before returning to action Dec. 29-30 at the Cyclone Challenge, hosted by Iowa State.