USAF ACADEMY, Colo. Air Force outscored in-state rivals Colorado State, 49-44, in the regular season finale, Thursday evening in Clune Arena. The Falcons, who secured the seventh seed in the post-season tournament, finalized the regular-season campaign at 9-20 overall with a 7-11 mark in the Mountain West. Colorado State, who is the 10th seed and will play Air Force in the first round, drops to 12-17, 6-12.
Air Force had a trio of scorers in the double-figures, led by Kaelin Immel's 15 points and eight rebounds, shooting 60-percent from the floor (6-10). Briana Autrey-Thompson scored 11 points, picked off two steals and dished out an assist. Sophomore standout Riley Snyder dropped 10 points and snagged seven rebounds on the night.
Sophomore guard Cierra Winters was instrumental in helping Air Force to victory as she picked off a career-high six steals, five of which were in the first half. Winters came off the bench and shot 50-percent from the field, tallying eight points, two rebounds and an assist.
Emily Conroe and Kassady Huffman put in work down low, snagging eight and five rebounds, respectively. Freshman forward Nikki McDonald snagged five rebounds in her 10th start for the Falcons.
Kaelin Immel led the charge in the first quarter shooting perfect on four attempts including a three-pointer to cap off a 7-0 scoring run to tie the Rams at 15. Air Force shot well in the quarter, shooting 64-percent from the floor (7-11) but turned the ball over five times to CSU's one.
The second quarter turned into a defensive battle as both offenses stalled out, combining for just 15 points on the quarter between the two teams. Cierra Winters was exceptional for the Falcons' defense, picking off a career-high five steals in the first half alone. At the halftime horn, the game was tied at 23 and Immel was leading Air Force in scoring with nine points. Immel and Kassady Huffman had a team-high four rebounds each.
The struggle continued after the halftime break as the Falcons and Rams shot 27-percent and 30-percent from the floor on the quarter, respectively. At the media timeout Air Force 0-5 in field goal attempts. Colorado State built as much as a four-point lead but Air Force battled out of the deficit and built a three-point lead of their own with 1:14 remaining in the quarter. The Rams knocked down a bucket in the waning seconds to tie the game at 34 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Falcons played their best ball in fourth quarter, shooting 50-percent from the field on the quarter while building an eight-point lead for their largest lead of the game with 3:42 remaining. Immel scored six points and knocked down two critical free throws to make it a two possession game with 17 seconds on the regulation clock. Colorado State was unable to get anything churning, falling to the Falcons, 49-44. The last time Air Force had a nine-win season was in the 2010-11 season.
Prior to the game, Air Force honored lone senior and co-team captain Sarah Pierce for senior night.
Next up, the seventh-seeded Falcons travels to the 2020 Air Force Reserve Mountain West Women's Basketball Championship to take on 10th-seed Colorado State in first round action. Tip-off is slated for 4:30 p.m. PT/5:30 MT in UNLV's Thomas and Mack Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada.