The last time the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team matched up with Colorado Mines, the eighth-seeded Skyhawks pulled off a historic upset in last year’s Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament against the tournament’s top-seed. It was the first time an eight-seed ever beat the top seed in the RMAC Shootout.
This time around, it’ll be the Orediggers (15-12, 11-7 RMAC) who are looking to knock the Skyhawks off the higher perch.
Fort Lewis (18-6, 13-6 RMAC) is currently in fourth-place in the league standings and sits in a dogfight with Regis, Metro State and Colorado Mines for the coveted final home-court slot for the opening round of the RMAC Shootout.
A win Friday would cement the Skyhawks in that spot with two games left in the regular season.
“They have most of their girls from last year returning, but it’s hard for me to remind our girls about that game because most of them weren’t here,” Fort Lewis head coach Jason Flores said. “All season, our goal has been to put ourselves in position to play these meaningful games. We’re in that position now, and now it’s time to put ourselves in position to play more meaningful games.”
Fort Lewis is coming off a very impressive weekend in which the defense smothered both Western State and Colorado Mesa. The Skyhawks pitched the rare shutout in the second quarter of the game Friday, as they outscored the Mountaineers 19-0 in the 10-minute frame and carried on to hold the opponents scoreless for nearly 16 minutes. The result was a 67-36 win in which FLC held the opposing offense to just 20-percent shooting for the game.
Saturday, Fort Lewis overwhelmed third-place Colorado Mesa in similar fashion. The Skyhawks held the Mavericks to 27-percent shooting from the floor in a one-sided, 77-50 walloping that sent a message to the rest of the league.
“At the beginning of the season, I thought this would be the kind of team that just got better and better as the season went on,” Flores said. “We got off to a great start, and I didn’t know if I was expecting that, but they’ve still gotten better and better. We’re playing a heck of a team Friday, so we’ll need the same effort and we’ll need to execute on top of that.”
Like the Orediggers men’s team, the Colorado Mines women are the league’s best rebounding team, grabbing 43 per game. They also have the third-best scoring offense (70 points per game) led by 5-foot-11 guard Emily Bailey’s 14.1 average. Cassidy Budge, Elizabeth Tomon and Laura Tyree also average in double figures for the Orediggers.
Colorado Mines is coming off a 66-52 loss to Colorado Christian but had won seven of eight before.
Fort Lewis sophomore Alyssa Yocky is well-equipped to handle the Orediggers’ interior. Yocky is averaging 13 points and leads FLC with nine rebounds a game. She’ll be supported by the twin towers of Ande Lampert and Natalie Stilwell, who have combined to block 56 shots this season.
Offensively, Briana Clah continues to shine for FLC. Clah was 7-for-8 from 3-point land last weekend in the dominant wins and earned the RMAC’s Offensive Player of the Week award. Clah also leads the team with 84 assists, and back-court mate Kayla Herrera is averaging in double figures with 12 points per game to go along with a team-high 44 steals at the other end.
“We just can’t get wiped out on the boards and we have to keep up the intensity we’ve been playing with,” Flores said. “We’re all fighting for postseason positioning, and if we start to let up just a bit, we’ll be on the outside looking in.”