Once the Skyhawks got up to speed, the Mountaineers were little more than a hill to climb to win their ninth game in a row.
The Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team used a 14-0 run to overcome a deficit as big as nine points in the first half, and the Skyhawks held off Western State Colorado University 90-81 on Friday in Gunnison.
Mary Brinton keyed FLC’s highest scoring output of the year, scoring a career-high 25 points and pulling in nine rebounds. The Pagosa Springs High School alumna was a perfect 9 of 9 from the field.
“It was the way they were guarding,” FLC head coach Jason Flores said. “They suck up on you, guard you tight on the perimiter. ... When we’d get them extended on ball movement, we were able to go inside for a lot of one-on-ones.
“She had a great game.”
Ashley Kuchar had 17, Erika Richards scored 13, and Alex Easterbrook scored 11 for FLC (17-8, 16-5 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference).
Christie Groh just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, helping the Skyhawks lock up at least a top-four finish in the RMAC and an opening-round home game Tuesday in the RMAC Shootout.
The Skyhawks’ opponent will be determined after today’s regular-season finales.
The Skyhawks struggled early, making just one of their first six shots. But the rhythm and points soon came in bunches as FLC led the Mountaineers (4-21, 4-17 RMAC) 42-37 at halftime.
“We did enough defensively in a few stretches to give ourselves double-digit leads in the second half,” Flores said.
Natalie Markovich had 20 points and Raven Taylor 19 for the Mountaineers.
Bigger still than the nine-game streak is the fact FLC has won 15 of its last 17 games to go from struggling to get into the Shootout to hosting position.
“That’s a credit to the players that we had to dig ourselves out of a hole after a really tough start with a lot of adversity,” Flores said. “But they stuck together.”