The Skyhawks knew they couldnt afford a demoralizing home loss.
Coming off consecutive defeats last weekend in New Mexico, the Fort Lewis College mens basketball team battled to a 67-all tie at the end of regulation with CSU-Pueblo, the team that handed FLC its first loss in a December upset.
Knowing it needed to avoid another upset, FLC turned to its defense.
The Skyhawks outscored the ThunderWolves 14-5 in overtime, finally shaking pesky Pueblo 81-72 on Friday night at Whalen Gymnasium.
DeAndre Lansdowne scored 23 points to lead FLC (16-5, 12-5 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference), and in the process finished the night with 1,709 career points to move past Tim Bieri to take the schools all-time scoring lead.
Its a great honor, but I have to put it with everyone around me. ... Teammates have always pushed me, and Ive always had great people in front of me to make me who I am, Lansdowne said.
And FLC needed every one of those points. His two free throws put Fort Lewis ahead 67-65 with 2:08 left to play, but a runner from Kris Lawrie tied the game at 67 with 27 seconds left, and the Skyhawks last-second play went awry when Pueblo (9-12, 6-11 RMAC) intercepted a short feed from Matt Morris to Lansdowne.
If Lansdowne was the catalyst in regulation, Daniel Steffensen was the hero in overtime.
Despite playing most of the final five minutes hobbling after an apparent leg injury, Steffensen scored nine of his 21 points in the extra frame, including a dagger of a 3-pointer to push the lead to 76-69 with 2:39 remaining.
Hes going to dive on the floor the whole game, and hell never want to come out, Lansdowne said of Steffensen. Youve seen him dive and take out half the bench and the water coolers. ... He has the confidence to continue shooting whether hes made eight or missed eight.
The tense victory gave the Skyhawks a much-needed shot of confidence after back-to-back road defeats.
Head coach Bob Hofman said his team seemed tentative early but began to attack the basket as the night went on, building a 41-33 halftime lead in the process.
I think confidence is such a fragile thing, and we played with a little bit of trepidation where we didnt attack like we can. ... We were moving the ball well, but we werent attacking, Hofman said.
Morris added 12 points for Fort Lewis despite playing much of the second half and overtime with four fouls, and Kyle Behrens chipped in 11.
Nathan Tigner led CSUP with 21 points, aided by 14 from Daniel Pierce and 12 from Kevin Coates in the ThunderWolves 46 percent shooting performance.