The Jason Flores era at Fort Lewis College began with an eye-opening result.
The FLC women’s basketball team stayed with Division I New Mexico State throughout, despite playing without injured preseason all-conference performer Katerina Garcia, falling 80-73 in an exhibition game Friday night in Las Cruces, N.M.
The Skyhawks held a lead at 63-60 with 7 minutes, 6 seconds to play in regulation before the Aggies pulled ahead and built enough breathing room to eke out a victory.
“We battled hard. That was the theme coming out,” Flores said. “What were we going to do with a lot of players without a lot of experience?”
The answer was a strong performance from the guard position. Ashley Kuchar led the way with 24 points, and Erika Richards scored 14. Alex Easterbrook, starting at the point in place of Garcia, had 11 points and eight assists for FLC.
Flores was pleased with his guard play so early in his first year at the helm, particularly that of Kuchar, who got her points without going outside the structure of the offense.
“That’s what we need her to be is consistent throughout until all these other players come through with a bit more experience,” Flores said. “The good thing about it, to be honest with you, was it came out of regular offense. It wasn’t like we were tailored and just running plays because she was our only option.”
Stefanie Gilbreath scored 26 points to lead the Aggies, who also got 14 from Danesia Williamson.
The one area in which Flores hoped to see the most improvement before the Nov. 16 opener vs. McMurry was on defense. Foul trouble eventually hurt FLC on the scoreboard.
“We have to become a little better defensively and at not putting people on the line,” he said.