The Fort Lewis College womens basketball team, undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the nation, figured to have little trouble with winless Western New Mexico on Saturday at Whalen Gymnasium.
What few could have foreseen is just how little trouble it would turn out to be.
After leading just 16-11 with 8:45 left in the first half, the Skyhawks (14-0, 9-0 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) ripped off a 21-0 run to end the half and outscored the Mustangs 70-16 from the 8:45 mark on in a record-setting 86-27 rout.
FLC junior Jenna Santistevan said that after a slow start, it was just a matter of the Skyhawks settling in and playing their brand of basketball.
I think we just realized that we really had to get it going. ... We just all had to get each other up and get the energy going, Santistevan said.
The 27 points were the lowest output by an FLC opponent at the Division II level in school history. The overall record was the paltry 18 points scored by NAIA program Northern New Mexico on Dec. 22, 2009.
Santistevan scored 10 of her 14 points before halftime to push the Skyhawks to a 37-11 lead at the break, making all five of her shots in the frame.
Stephanie Beeman, making her first career start in place of the injured Mary Rose Paiz, scored all eight of her points before half. Beeman and Santistevan scored 10 of FLCs first 12 points in a game-opening 12-6 outburst.
I told the girls if we had played the first seven minutes, theres no telling what couldve happened, Fort Lewis head coach Mark Kellogg said.
Several times in the first half run and early in the second half, Santistevan and Dana Schreibvogel were able to work the high-low post game, something future opponents will have to respect given the post pairs underrated passing ability.
I think were really dangerous when we get that going, just because our posts are so athletic also, Santistevan said.
The key to the first-half run and the bludgeoning the rest of the game was FLCs defense, which before Kellogg called off the dogs early in the second half, forced a bulk of WNMUs 35 turnovers, 21 of which came on steals.
The Skyhawks held the Mustangs (0-14, 0-10 RMAC) to a staggering 14 percent shooting from the field, and the Skyhawks mustered 30 assists, good for a tie for fifth in school history. The record in a game is 39, also set last season against Northern New Mexico.
Senior point guard Abby Jackson passed former teammate Laura Haugen for second all-time in assists at Fort Lewis with 336. Carrie Gomer holds the top spot with 357 dimes from 1982-86.
Schreibvogel had 15 points and four steals for FLC, and Ashley Kuchar, Katerina Garcia and Christine Groh each chipped in eight in extended second-half minutes.
Alex Easterbrook scored seven points in the second half, and every FLC player in uniform scored for the second consecutive game.