The Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team suffered a bit of a hangover after a big win against Colorado Mesa University on Friday night, but the Skyhawks shook off the cobwebs in the second half and rolled past Western State Colorado University for a 68-54 win Saturday night at Whalen Gymnasium in Durango.
Throughout the first half, FLC, ranked 20th in the nation, went on quick scoring spurts but then would go cold from the field and go a couple minutes without a bucket, as the Skyhawks struggled to play with the passion and intensity they showed a day prior.
“To start the game, our effort wasn’t what it was against Mesa,” FLC senior guard Astrea Reed said. “We were just kind of there, kind of in a funk, kind of cloudy. That’s at least how I felt on the court. ... Defensively, we didn’t really put it on them. We weren’t the attackers defensively and we kind of took a step back.”
With the up-and-down play, FLC (8-1, 3-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) and Western State (4-6, 1-3 RMAC) were tied at 16 at the end of the first quarter. FLC built a 31-26 lead at halftime
The erratic scoring continued in the third quarter. FLC went on a 12-4 run during the opening 3 minutes, 29 seconds of the third quarter, but then was held to two points during the next 4:47.
With FLC struggling to score, Western State cut into the deficit to get it to 45-38 with 1:45 to play. But the Skyhawks offense got going again and closed the quarter on a short 7-3 run to take a 52-41 lead and never looked back.
FLC started the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run to get the lead to 17 points and pushed it to as many as 22 with a few minutes left in the game.
Head coach Jason Flores said there weren’t any big adjustments during halftime or between the third and fourth quarters other than the Skyhawks starting to pick up their intensity on the court.
“Sometimes basketball is much simpler than what we make it out to be,” he said. “All we said at halftime was it has nothing to do with Xs and Os. We could draw up 50 different things, and at some point it comes down to just playing hard, and playing harder.”
When the offense picked up, it was standout freshman Vivian Gray and Reed who provided the spark. Gray led the team with 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting, and Reed finished with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
The Skyhawks have outrebounded their opponents by a margin of about eight boards per game this season, but the Mountaineers had a 40-35 advantage Saturday – another result of what Gray continually referred to as the Skyhawks’ lack of effort during the game.
FLC’s defense created 24 turnovers and the Skyhawks scored 22 points off those turnovers.
FLC will host Adams State University (2-4, 0-4 RMAC) at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Whalen Gymnasium.
“It’s a weird game because it’s on Tuesday of finals week. We’re not going to have a lot of time to prepare because they need to prepare for academics first, then we’ll get to the game,” Flores said. “Adams will be a little tricky. ... They’re going to run different zone defenses and traps, and you have to be really strong with the ball. You have to attack, you have to be confident and you’ve got to have multiple players making them pay for that style of defense.”