Rasmus Bach made his first seven shots in the first half Saturday. It was one day after he didn’t make a shot from the field until the final three minutes of a 67-64 loss at Black Hills State.
Behind Bach’s hot shooting, No. 21 Fort Lewis College picked up its first road win since Dec. 2 with a 73-68 victory at South Dakota Mines in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Bach finished with a season-high 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field. He also had seven rebounds and two assists.
“We had a team meeting last night and talked about it,” FLC head coach Bob Pietrack said. “We gotta get Ras having fun playing. He puts a lot of pressure on himself, and there are a lot of teams gunning for him. He saw the first couple go in tonight and got his confidence going.
“He’s the leader of the team, a fifth-year senior and preseason player of the year. When he started playing well, everyone else followed.”
Fort Lewis grabbed an early 8-2 lead behind three makes from Bach. The Skyhawks would allow the Hardrockers to hang in the game late, largely because of another poor night at the free-throw line. FLC made only 13-of-21 shots from the foul line and made only 4-of-12 shots from 3-point land, but FLC shot 51.9 percent from the field and dominated the paint with 38 points down low.
“These RMAC road games are extremely difficult,” Pietrack said. “We needed to really suck it up tonight. We lost a tough game last night, and the hardest thing to do for any team and staff in all of Division II is to be in the RMAC, lose on a Friday and be on the road and have to regroup for a game the next day. I’m proud of the team effort on the road and the guys figuring out a way to just win a game. Every road win is so important.”
After early foul trouble, Marquel Beasley was big for Fort Lewis in the second half. He scored nine of his 11 points in he second half on 5-of-6 shooting, including two big dunks.
“Marquel played only five minutes in the first half, but the second half he stepped up,” Pietrack said. “He had very big rebounds and some momentum plays that make a difference.”
DJ Miles started for FLC for the first time during the conference season. The senior transfer scored 11 points, grabbed three rebounds and had to play 37 of 40 minutes with FLC dealing with some foul trouble.
Brandon Wilson was big in moments for the Skyhawks and helped get the Hardrockers in foul trouble in the first half. He had nine points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots. He helped FLC win the rebound battle 35-28.
“You need everybody on these trips,” Pietrack said. “It takes a total-team effort to win any RMAC road game. I don’t care where you’re playing, who you’re playing, how you’re playing. This league is competitive top to bottom, and any road win is huge.”
Riley Farris had six points for FLC to go with three assists and two rebounds. Alex Semadeni added six points and five rebounds, with three boards coming on the offensive end that led to FLC second-chance buckets. FLC had nine offensive rebounds in the game that led to 12 second-chance points.
FLC had leads as big as 13 points on a few occasions, but Logan Elers kept the Hardrockers in the game. He finished with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting. He added six rebounds, three assists and three steals. FLC held Brian Orr to 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting. The Hardrockers made 5-of-17 from 3 and shot 45.1 percent from the field in the game.
FLC focused on slowing down Troy Brady and Jake Heath, and FLC held the pair to a combined 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
The Skyhawks held a 37-33 lead at halftime, helped by a Mike Ranson 3-pointer shortly before the buzzer.
After splitting the road trip to South Dakota, FLC will fly back home and get ready to hit the road again next week with a tough trip Friday at Regis in Denver and Saturday at Chadron State in Nebraska.
“We leave South Dakota at least tied for first place,” Pietrack said. “We will get ready for a really big game Friday with Regis before Chadron.”