When Vivian Gray is feeling it, there’s no stopping Fort Lewis College’s freshman phenom.
Gray torched Chadron State College for 33 points and 15 rebounds – both new career highs – to help propel the FLC women’s basketball team to a 78-66 victory that snapped a three-game losing skid.
FLC head coach Jason Flores said part of Gray’s success was her simply being the best player on the court, but it was also a result of the Skyhawks finding her when there was a mismatch.
“We had some mismatches that we had to go to, and no matter who it is, if it’s (Gray) with a mismatch we go to her; if it’s someone else with a mismatch that’s who we go to. Tonight, and a lot of times, it’s her with the mismatch, and we went to it.”
The first half was one of runs.
The No. 23 Skyhawks (16-4, 10-4 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) built a quick 12-5 lead,only to see the Eagles (3-16, 1-12 RMAC) rally back to tie the game at 20 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter followed a similar pattern. FLC started strong and got another seven-point lead before Chadron came back to tie the game at 30 with a few minutes to go. But the Skyhawks held the Eagles scoreless the rest of the way and took a 37-30 advantage into halftime.
The third quarter was evenly matched, and FLC held a 59-51 lead at the start of the fourth and held off the Eagles the rest of the way for the win.
“We just never put them away,” Flores said. “I didn’t like that, but when you’re on the road, this is obviously one of the toughest road trips anyone in the country has to go on. You just have to win games on the road, and however it happens, it happens.”
Gray was the star of the night, but the Skyhawks got back to a pretty balanced scoring attack with three other players in double figures.
Seniors Shelby Patterson and Astrea Reed scored 11 points each, and sophomore Kayla Herrera added 10 points.
It was Patterson’s second game in a row with double figures – she scored 15 points against Regis University on Friday night in Denver – while she’s picking up more minutes with fellow senior guard Briana Clah sidelined with an ankle injury.
“She had a good weekend,” Flores said of Patterson. “Two back-to-back games where she played hard and gave us a spark. And she’s capable of doing that. And Kayla gave us double digits. That’s what we need. We need other contributors. We need multiple players in double digits to be balanced.”
The Skyhawks hit 40 percent of their shots from the field, and made 24-of-34 free throws.
Taryn Foxen scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Chadron. Kalli Feddersen added 16 points and five assists.
The Eagles shot 35 percent from the floor.
After spending the last four games on the road, the Skyhawks will be back at home next weekend to host Colorado Christian University (6-11, 4-8 RMAC) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Whalen Gymnasium in Durango.