’Hawks climb back but can’t summit the Mountain Lions

The Skyhawks never got over the hump.

Though the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team came awfully close to finding a lead in their Rocky Mountain Athletic Confernece opener against UC-Colorado Springs in Colorado Springs on Friday, the Skyhawks gave up too many open shots, bad turnovers and trailed the entire game to lose 70-65.

After trailing by 11 points just after the start of the second half – the Mountain Lions’ largest lead of the night – the Skyhawks (1-4 overall, 0-1 RMAC) pulled within one point with about seven minutes to go only to fall back again, then inched within two at 65-63 on Ashley Kuchar’s layup with 26 seconds remaining.

Katerina Garcia missed a layup of her own, though, after UCCS’s Abby Kirchoff made one free throw, and the Mountain Lions put up the final margin from the free throw.

But FLC head coach Jason Flores said the team’s problem wasn’t as much the finish but the first half, when the Skyhawks gave hot-handed Kirchoff and Jeri Pikul too many open looks. Kirchoff scored a game-high 25, while Pikul added 19 for the Mountain Lions.

UCCS hit 45 percent of its shots, including 57 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

“We were losing track of the shooters,” Flores said.

“We were there (on them) on a few but just not up there enough.”

Then, in the second half as FLC crept back toward the lead, turnovers kept the momentum from swinging.

Although FLC committed two less turnovers than UCCS’s total 22, “huge turnovers” came at “key moments” in the comeback attempt, including on fast-breaks that Flores said the Skyhawks normally would turn into points.

“We forced some things, and we were rattled,” Flores said. “If you convert those, it’s a whole different game: You’ve got momentum on your side, and we’re probably in the lead.”

Kuchar scored a team-high 21 points, and Erika Richards had 12. FLC shot 43 percent from the field.

Flores said Kuchar had “some big buckets” and was “overall pretty good,” but he’d like to have more Skyhawks in double digits.

heraldsports@durangoherald.com

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