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Air Force women’s basketball to face San Francisco in WNIT

Air Force’s historic season continues. They’ll face the Dons on Thursday.

AIR FORCE ATHLETICS via Twitter
AIR FORCE ATHLETICS via Twitter

This historic season for Air Force’s women’s basketball team is not over.

Despite falling in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament to eventual champ UNLV, the Falcons will get the chance to keep playing.

Air Force accepted a bid to the WNIT on Sunday night and will begin play in the 32-team tournament on Thursday, at San Francisco. It’s the first time since joining the Division I ranks that Air Force’s women’s basketball team will play in a postseason tournament.

Thursday’s first round game at San Francisco starts at 8 p.m. EST.

Three other Mountain West teams will join Air Force in the tournament: Wyoming, Colorado State and New Mexico.

If Air Force wins, they’ll advance to play the winner of UCLA and UC Irvine. UCLA was one of the First Four Out of the NCAA Tournament.

Thursday’s meeting between the Falcons and the Dons marks just the second time ever that the two have played each other in women’s basketball. The Falcons were still playing Division II ball in the last meeting between the two sides, falling 79-46 at USF in 1995.

San Francisco went 17-15 overall this season and finished third in the West Coast Conference behind BYU and Gonzaga, both of which made the NCAA Tournament. San Francisco doesn’t do anything particularly well, but they aren’t dreadful in any part of the game either.

A few stats do stand out though:

  • San Francisco is 36th nationally in points scored, tallying 2,181 this season.
  • The Dons are 21st in three-pointers made, sinking 248.
  • Ioanna Krimili is 29th in the nation in scoring, averaging 19.6 points per-game. Last season, as a sophomore, she was second nationally in three’s made with 94.

Air Force’s run in the Mountain West Tournament came to an end with a 61-50 loss to UNLV last Tuesday. It was the Falcons’ first time ever playing in the conference semifinals.

Riley Snyder continued her strong play, tallying 19 points, three boards, three steals and two assists, while Kamri Heath added 12 points and two assists. Ultimately, Air Force’s downfall in the game was its inability to connect on shots consistently, shooting just 28.6% from the floor and 17.6% from three-point land. Air Force’s defense forced the Runnin’ Rebels into 21 turnovers, but the Falcons were often unable to capitalize on them.

“I thought it was a very hard-fought game, obviously,” Falcons’ coach Chris Gobrecht said after the game. “I was very proud of the effort that our players gave tonight. I thought they played their tails off. I thought they played about as hard as they could possibly play. We just needed to get a few more shots to fall or we needed to get a few more free throws that I thought we probably earned.”

Air Force carries five seniors on its roster this year, including Snyder and fellow starters Haley Jones and Cierra Winters. For most of them, it’ll be the highest level of competitive basketball they’ll ever play. And it’ll be up to them as to how deep into March the Falcons go.

The Falcons have won a program-record 18 games this season and will get to extend that mark in the WNIT.