With the home side up by 16 points in the first half and as many as 12 in the second, Whalen Gymnasium was perking up.
The Fort Lewis College mens basketball team was moving the ball, hitting from all over the floor and playing quality defense.
But Colorado School of Mines hadnt forgotten how much losing at home to FLC earlier this season stung, and the Orediggers werent about to leave without clueing FLC in on that feeling.
No. 20 CSM came alive offensively in the second half, connecting on 68 percent of their shots to stun Fort Lewis, which received votes in the latest top-25 poll, 78-71 in a battle of the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the Central Region.
After being held to just 31 percent shooting in the opening half, the Orediggers battled back behind 10 second-half points from both Sean Armstrong and Brett Green, who finished with 20 to turn the game into a seesaw battle.
Give the credit to them. They came out in the second half with all the energy, FLC point guard Matt Billups said.
But after a Matt Morris layup tied the game at 60, CSM (20-3, 16-3 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) embarked on a 9-0 run, punctuated by the fact FLC missed two free throws and couldnt convert on the possession after Trevor Wages was called for a technical for hanging on the rim after a dunk. Greens 3 capped the run after the lost Skyhawks opportunity.
Fort Lewis battled back to within three after David Kanyindas three-point play cut the lead to 73-70. But a couple of key fouls, a missed Kanyinda 3 and DeAndre Lansdownes 1-for-4 shooting from the foul line in the final minute allowed Mines to close the door.
I think they basically wore us down on the boards, to their credit, FLC head coach Bob Hofman said.
In building a 33-17 lead and eventual 41-32 advantage at halftime, FLC hit five 3s and 51 percent of its shots. Lansdowne scored 10 of his game-high 21 points in the frame.
I think we had a lot of energy in the first half that we didnt carry over to the second half, Billups said.
The loss drops the Skyhawks (17-6, 13-6 RMAC), once the regions top seed, to a tie for fourth in the conference, putting their chances of hosting a first-round RMAC shootout game in jeopardy.