This was a day and night Air Force women’s basketball would prefer to simply forget.
By day, the Falcons learned their game on Sunday against Nevada was postponed because of COVID-19 cases and contact tracing within the Wolf Pack program.
By night, the typically reliable Air Force defense broke down in a 83-67 loss to UNLV.
“It just wasn’t us,” coach Chris Gobrecht said. “I was so shocked. I couldn’t figure out how to shake them out of it.”
The Falcons jumped to a 16-12 lead after one quarter, then saw the Runnin’ Rebels score 44 points over the next two quarters as they built a lead that grew to as large as 30 points.
UNLV (11-4, 3-1 Mountain West) outscored Air Force 42-22 in the paint and won 45-29 in rebounds.
“People have been trying to high-low us since Adam and Eve walked in the Garden of Eden, and there isn’t anything about the high-low that we don’t understand,” Gobrecht said. “They built a 13-point lead when we were acting like we had never seen it before.”
Dasha Macmillan scored a game-high 20 points to pace the Falcons (7-7, 1-2), as she hit 9-of-15 shots.
“I thought she was definitely the bright spot tonight, to see her start asserting herself and play like she’s capable of playing,” Gobrecht said. “I was really happy to see that.”
But, again, the game was only part of a rough day for the Falcons.
The team was particularly excited to get another shot at Nevada after falling 67-52 in Reno, Nev., on Dec. 28. In that game the Falcons were out of sorts after travel complications. The players flew in separately from their homes after the break, and with COVID-related flight cancelations around the county some players didn’t arrive until early the morning of the game.
Now, Air Force isn’t sure when or if that game will be made up. Gobrecht, who has been vocal in her frustrations with COVID policies, didn’t accuse Nevada of any nefarious activities but understands how the inclusion of contract tracing in the guidelines makes any policy impossible to accurately administer.
“I think that we have to be very careful because the way the rule is written, it’s ripe for abuse,” she said. “Contact trace? That’s a very nebulous type of a definition because let’s say the kids who have COVID are a couple of your better players, well let’s make sure you contact trace five or six.”
And this day piled on beyond that. The Falcons were supposed to have a Pack the House night where they incentivize cadets to attend the game, but that was canceled because of COVID.
It was one thing after another for this team even before tipoff, and then came an uncharacteristic performance on the court.
“We need to find Air Force again,” said Gobrecht, who, on top of it all, received a technical foul on Thursday night. “We need to get our identity back.”