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Skyhawks positively upbeat

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 2:19 AM
Skyhawks point guard Erin Kerr dribbles around the defense of CSU-Pueblo freshman guard Rachel Espinoza in the RMAC Shootout semifinals Friday in Pueblo. Fort Lewis, the 4-seed in the North Central regional, is one of three RMAC teams to make the Division II national tournament.

The question, albeit misconstrued, insinuated that Fort Lewis College did not run out the top six players game to game in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.





Dejected after the overtime loss to eventual champion CSU-Pueblo in the RMAC Shootout

semifinals, Skyhawks coach Mark Kellogg was flanked by point guard Erin Kerr and arguably the Division II sixth man

of the year in Allison Rosel at the postgame press conference.





The question - "Does CSU-Pueblo have the top six in the conference?" - garnered a quick

response. In defense of his RMAC regular-season champions, Kellogg retorted: "No. We do. I'm not ready to concede

that."





The question, amended, should have asked: "From the teams you've played against, does

CSU-Pueblo have the top six in the conference?"





Nevertheless, the coach answered with confidence.





The team, however, after a 22-game win streak, has now lost two of their last three

games.





Fort Lewis, the No. 4 seed in the North Central regional, will play No. 5 Nebraska-Kearney at

7 p.m. Friday at the DakotaDome in Vermillion, S.D., in the first round of the national tournament.





Nebraska-Kearney, which was runner-up to FLC in the RMAC regular season, finished runner-up

to CSU-Pueblo in the Shootout. In the two teams' only contest this season, Fort Lewis defeated Nebraska-Kearney 77-68

on Dec. 15 at Whalen Gymnasium in Durango.





CSU-Pueblo, last year's RMAC West Division champion, which returned all of its starters then

added dynamic freshman point guard Rachel Espinoza, earned an automatic bid to the national tournament and is the

8-seed in the region.





CSU-Pueblo defeated Fort Lewis, the tournament's top seed, 70-68 in overtime of the

semifinals then pulled another upset with its convincing 70-52 victory against 2-seed Nebraska-Kearney in the

championship game.





Fort Lewis, which has trailed just a handful of its 29 games this season, is 26-3 overall.

It's last game, Friday's overtime loss at the Colorado State Fair Events Center in Pueblo, was the Skyhawks' only

one-possession game of the season.





That, of course, begged the question: "Were the Skyhawks too good, too early in the regular

season?"





"I don't know if we were too good," Kellogg said at the postgame press conference.





"We haven't had too many one-possession games this season; I guess one now all year long.

We're a young team, only one senior, and we haven't gone through this yet. We just have to try and learn from it and

take the positives from it."





Should the Skyhawks and ThunderWolves win their first-round games, the two would meet for the

fourth time this season. The second round game will be played at 5 p.m. Saturday at the DakotaDome, home of the

University of South Dakota.





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