Air Force Women hit San Diego State in regular season finale as two players return to team | Air Force Sports
The Air Force capped off its best women’s basketball regular season in program history with dominance and unexpected drama.
The Falcons beat San Diego State 70-46 Wednesday at Clune Arena, overcoming a sluggish third quarter with a crushing final 10 minutes.
Rookie Lauren McDonald came off the bench to score 15 of her 16 points in the first half, Riley Snyder scored 11 of 16 in the second half. Haley Jones grabbed 15 rebounds to go with nine points.
The Aztecs (14-15, 8-10 Mountain West) shot just 29.1 percent against the Air Force defense (17-12, 11-7).
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“It was very typical of them and the way they get things done,” coach Chris Gobrecht said of different players contributing in different ways and at different times.
But there was something very different about this one.
Senior guard Briana Autrey-Thompson, who hadn’t played – or even practiced – since Dec. 28 due to academic issues at the academy, found out hours before the game that she had been cleared to leave.
She played 11 minutes, scoring four points.
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“I actually walked into the locker room and saw her uniform hanging in her locker. I said, ‘Wait a second…’,” Snyder said. “I’m so happy for her. I know the job. what she did. To have her season taken away like that, it must hurt. I’m so happy that she can be here for the big part, the beautiful end of the season.
Autrey-Thompson was never ineligible for the NCAA, as the issues only related to academy standards. His return came at a perfect time as the Falcons lost point guard Taylor Britt to a foot injury earlier in the day. Autrey-Thompson, assuming she clears another hurdle and can travel to the Mountain West tournament, would slip into that role even though she hasn’t played in months.
“It’s not like this kid hasn’t done this before,” Gobrecht said of Autrey-Thompson, who started consistently at point guard in his first three seasons and into this early part of this season. countryside. “It’s a bit like riding a bike. After four years, she was able to get back on the bike.
The Falcons also fired sophomore Kayla Pilson, perhaps the team’s top rookie a year ago, because she became eligible under academy policies.
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“They both handled the situation very well,” Gobrecht said. “I couldn’t be more proud of how two people handled a tough time.”
The Falcons will enter the tournament as the No. 5 seed. They would have climbed to No. 3 with losses to Wyoming and Nevada on Wednesday, but both won. They will face the Wolf Pack in the quarterfinals on Monday in Las Vegas.
They will do so having won four of five and with two key players now back in the fold and a team soaring so high at the end of this record-breaking season that they gave Gobrecht a playoff sprinkling.
“It was supposed to be a spray,” Gobrecht said. “It was a dump. I said, ‘You obviously don’t have much training in this area. We have to work on it. “
Who knows, maybe they can practice it again in a week.
“The Air Force is finally peaking at the right time,” Jones said.