Home sweet home: Ute women look to bounce back against Air Force

After a week off, the U women’s basketball team is back in action this Saturday afternoon in the Huntsman Center, for a 3 p.m. battle against Air Force.

The Utes (18-6, 7-2 MWC) are looking to get back to their winning ways after suffering a tough loss at the hands of the New Mexico Lobos last Sunday. The Falcons (7-14, 2-6 MWC) are looking for their third conference victory.

U head coach Elaine Elliott said that after the New Mexico debacle, the Utes would have extra incentive to win the game against Air Force.

“Any competitive team will be ready to get back on the floor after a tough loss,” Elliott said. “I think we’ll be ready.”

Although the Falcons don’t have a staggering win total, they have the potential to be dangerous.

“Air Force is a really good team,” said U point guard Shona Thorburn. “They’re definitely not a team to take lightly.”

The Utes are currently one game behind New Mexico in the regular-season race for the Mountain West Conference title. With only five games left on the docket, even a mild lapse could be costly at this point in the year. Underestimating the Falcons could put a serious damper on the Utes’ hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid, along with their shot at the regular-season conference crown.

The Utes have never lost to the Falcons, which doesn’t mean much considering the recent turnaround in Colorado Springs. In four years as the Falcons’ head coach, Ardie McInelly has taken several steps toward turning Air Force into a school with a legitimate women’s basketball program.

“I keep telling my kids that this is not the Air Force of old,” Elliott said. “They’re not the doormats of the conference anymore. They beat a good Wyoming team, they have two wins in conference, and they have shown that they can be very dangerous. This is the best Air Force Team they’ve ever had down there.”

Facing one of the most talented groups in Falcon history, the Utes know Saturday’s game won’t be a gimme. The Utes obliterated the Falcons last time around, and the Falcons probably want some payback.

“There’s no doubt that Air Force could give us some trouble,” Elliott said. “We might have beaten them by 50 points last time, but that was one game and this one could be a lot different.”

The game will be broadcast over the radio on Hot Ticket 700 and over the Internet at utahutes.com.

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