The Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team made the plays when it needed to in the final minutes and picked up a key win in its opening game at the Angelo State Tournament on Friday afternoon in San Angelo, Texas.
Trailing 56-54, sophomore guard Kayla Herrera caught a pass in the corner, drove the baseline and put up a running layup and drew a foul on Angelo State with 7.3 seconds left in the game. Herrera converted the free throw for the and-1 to give the Skyhawks a 57-56 lead.
The Rambelles got a couple looks at tying the game when Madi Greenwood attacked the basket. Her shot missed, but teammate Keanna Kelly grabbed the offensive rebound and went up for a putback from close range. FLC’s Vivian Gray blocked the shot with one second remaining to secure the win.
“I have to credit our players. At the end, the last three or four minutes of the game, we really executed,” FLC head coach Jason Flores said. “We executed a couple plays out of timeouts that might have won the game for us. We got a layup and an and-1 out of those. That helped turn the tide, and our defense was stingy.”
The two teams battled back and forth through the first quarter, and FLC held a 16-14 advantage heading to the second.
The No. 14 Skyhawks built a 23-14 lead through the first few minutes of the second quarter but finished the half ice cold. They were held scoreless for the final 5:07 of the first half and shot 18 percent from the field during the second quarter but still led 26-23 at halftime.
“They were big and they caused us some problems offensively, but when we executed well and had good ball movement we got good looks, and some of them didn’t go in,” Flores said. “They made a lot of things tough. We each scouted each other well and both of us were making it hard on the other.”
FLC (4-0) shot 20-of-58 from the field while Angelo State (1-1) was 17-of-58.
The Skyhawks’ shooting struggles continued in the third quarter. They were 3-of-13 from the field in the third and trailed the Rambelles 41-37 at the end of the quarter.
During Angelo State’s run in the third quarter, 6-foot-4 De’Anira Moore began to impose her will on the Skyhawks defense and scored 14 of her 17 points in the second half.
Angelo State pushed its lead to 51-43 with 6:30 to play in the fourth, and that’s when the Skyhawks began their comeback.
While shutting the Angelo State offense down, the Skyhawks chipped away at the deficit during the next six minutes and tied the game at 54 when Briana Clah converted an and-1 with 33 seconds remaining.
Led by Clah, the FLC bench outscored the starters 29-28.
“She’s a good player, and she’s not a bench player – she’s a starter,” Flores said of Clah, who led all scorers with 18 points. “She’s still coming back (from a knee injury) and we’re still figuring out the rotation. Obviously, she’s an all-conference player from last year and starting caliber, and she took that role for a few weeks. To me, it’s not about who’s starting but who’s getting the minutes, and she’s back in the fold now.”
Clah was the only Skyhawk to crack double figures scoring. Astrea Reed added nine points and Herrera and Gray chipped in seven apiece.
Gray led the team with 12 rebounds and matched Reed with four assists. Gray also had five blocks but committed eight turnovers.
Moore’s 17 points and 11 rebounds led Angelo State. Greenwood finished with 16 points and Kelly added 11.
FLC will close out the Texas road trip against Texas A&M-Kingsville at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in San Angelo.
“They’re really athletic. It’ll be different because they’ll play a lot more zone (defense) than we saw today,” Flores said. “This is where playing (University of Texas-Permian Basin) and their zone will help us. We’ve played a couple teams that have tried to zone us, and hopefully we can be sharper against that.”