It was a bad time for a swoon.
Leading by a point, Air Force went scoreless for 3:43, allowing Army to take a lead from which the Falcons could not recover in a 72-68 Black Knights victory Friday evening at Clune Arena.
Katie Hilbig had scored seven during a 16-8 Air Force run that gave the Falcons a 58-57 lead with 5:08 remaining. But Air Force missed its next five field-goal attempts and had two turnovers as Army took a 65-58 lead.
“They were tough-minded and they put it to us,” Air Force coach Andrea Williams said. “We got in foul trouble and some other people had to play who don’t normally play in clutch situations.”
Air Force got to within two when Jimi Blagowsky’s jumper made it 67-65, but with just 28 seconds remaining, the Falcons had to foul.
Army’s Kelsey Minato made five free throws down the stretch to keep the Falcons at arm’s length.
Minato led Army (5-1) with 20 points, while Olivia Schretzman added 18 points and a team-best 10 rebounds.
Air Force (0-4) was led by Alicia Leipprandt’s 23 points, 18 of which came in the second half. Dymond James added 13 points, five assists and a game-high 14 rebounds.
James had five points and five rebounds in the game’s first eight minutes and then added four points and three assists (which resulted in seven points) in the final three minutes. The latter of those bursts helped the Falcons close the first period with a 13-7 run that cut Army’s lead to 32-30 at the break.
Air Force got into foul trouble early in the second half, putting Army in the bonus with 13:02 remaining. The fouls proved costly as Army put together a 14-5 run, with 10 of the points coming on free throws, to take a 48-41 lead.
The Falcons closed behind Hilbig, who finished with 11 points, until hitting their swoon at the end.
“We’re not good at anything right now,” Williams said. “We just need to come down, run our offense, get the ball inside and go to the free-throw line.”
Air Force will face Navy on Monday as the Falcons open their home schedule with back-to-back games against their service academy rivals.
“We’ve just got to find a way to win,” Williams said. “We need to dig deep down and find a way to bounce back for Monday night.”