Unlike previous years, the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team caught a plane to South Dakota for its road swing against Black Hills State on Friday and South Dakota School of Mines on Saturday. The Skyhawks might be back to making the 16-plus hour drive after the experience.
No. 13 FLC dropped both games and ended the trip with a 73-63 loss Saturday to the Hardrockers in Rapid City, South Dakota.
“We just didn’t play hard enough. I don’t know what else to tell you,” FLC head coach Jason Flores said. “One of our keys to victory was taking away their 3-point shot, and we didn’t do that. They made 50 percent, 10-for-20. And a lot of them were easy looks.”
The top-two scoring offenses in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference – both averaged 70.6 points per game entering Saturday – were kept quiet by devastating defenses in the first quarter.
At the end of the first, FLC (15-3, 9-3 RMAC) led 10-8.
The second quarter also started slowly, but, with 4 minutes, 40 seconds remaining before halftime, the Hardrockers (9-6, 6-3 RMAC) went on a tear and turned a 16-14 advantage into a 30-16 halftime lead.
“It started in the first half when we didn’t play hard enough in transition,” Flores said. “We tried to speed it up and get the tempo in our favor because we got passive again, but we didn’t execute. We didn’t execute our presses and fell asleep at key times.”
FLC made a run late in the third to make it a 41-31 deficit at the start of the fourth.
The Skyhawks kept chipping away at the deficit and got within three points a couple of times, but FLC fell apart in the final few minutes, and Flores said the team disbanded and got away from what worked to get back in the game.
“We can’t do that. Good teams can’t do that,” Flores said.
The Hardrockers finished the day with a 43.1 shooting percentage and made 19-of-23 free throws.
FLC shot 38.1 percent from the field and made 11-of-13 free throws but struggled from long range with 4-of-17 shooting from 3.
The Skyhawks won the rebounding battle 33-29 and had 12 turnovers to the Hardrockers’ 14, but Mines was better at taking advantage of the turnovers and had 16 points off turnovers compared to six for FLC.
Mines spread out its scoring and five players finished with nine points or more. Taylor Molstad led the way with 17 points and was 9-of-10 from the line and 2-of-3 from deep. Cooper Courtney finished with 12 points, and Anna Haugen added 11 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. Payton Humpal and Ryan Weiss had nine points each.
The 73 points were the most the Skyhawks have allowed this season. Entering the game, FLC had held opponents to 53.5 points per game and a 33.2 shooting percentage.
Vivian Gray had 21 points and seven rebounds for FLC. Astrea Reed finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, and Alyssa Yocky added 14 points and five boards.
The Skyhawks will get a few days to try to figure out their problems and will be back on the road next weekend with games at Regis (7-8, 6-4 RMAC) Friday in Denver and at Chadron State (3-13, 1-9 RMAC) Saturday in Chadron, Nebraska.
“We have some things we need to sort out,” Flores said. “We need to find out what five people we can put on the floor and play hard together, and the key part of that is ‘together.’ That’s going to be the plan. We’re halfway through our conference season and we have to decide what we want to be.”