Air Force (10-18, 4-12) could be without two of its top players when it meets TCU (20-10, 13-3) in the opening round of the Mountain West Conference women's basketball tournament on Wednesday night in Las Vegas. Senior forward Alecia Steele, who leads the Falcons in scoring with 12.3 points and is the league's second-leading rebounder with 7.4 per game, has missed two consecutive games after suffering a separated shoulder against BYU. Freshman guard Raimee Beck also is battling a nagging hip injury that limited her to 10 minutes in Saturday's 64-34 loss at San Diego State. Air Force committed 38 turnovers, shot 30 percent from the field and scored only nine first-half points in that loss.
Coach Ardie McInelly said she hopes to have the players back for the tournament, but both will be game-day decisions. Steele was scheduled to practice Monday for the first time since the BYU game, although McInelly said she would be held out of any possible contact situations. Without her, Air Force lost 85-50 at TCU last Wednesday.
"We're going to have to be a lot more patient offensively if we don't have Alecia," McInelly said. "She's pretty athletic, so she can get back on defense in transition to help stop some of the great athletes TCU has. That's something that hurt us last week. Offensively, she helps us with her rebounding and putting points on the board."
Here's the full tournament schedule, starting with Tuesday's play-in game.
8 p.m. -- No. 8 UNLV vs. No. 9 Colorado State, The Mtn.
3:30 p.m. -- No. 4 New Mexico vs. No. 5 BYU, The Mtn.
6 p.m. -- No. 1 Utah vs. No. 8-No. 9 winner, The Mtn.
9:30 p.m. -- No. 2 TCU vs. No. 7 Air Force, The Mtn.
Midnight -- No. 3 Wyoming vs. No. 6 San Diego State, The Mtn.
2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. -- Semifinals, The Mtn. (live) and CBS College Sports (tape delay at 1 a.m.)
3 p.m. -- Championship game, VERSUS
-- Lori Dann