Bob Pietrack was worried about his team having enough legs and energy to compete for 40 minutes at Chadron, Nebraska, only 24 hours removed from a tough overtime win at Regis University and a 350-mile overnight bus ride to Nebraska. FLC didn’t make Pietrack worry Saturday, and tired legs were no concern.
Fort Lewis College’s men’s basketball team secured a 96-69 win against the Chadron State Eagles on Saturday night. It came one night after a key 85-83 overtime win against the Regis Rangers.
FLC shot 57.1 percent from the field in the opening half and got only better to shoot 62.1 percent for the game. Most of that came thanks to good passing and easy layups inside.
“I thought it was a real collective effort,” Pietrack said. “We had six guys in double figures, got good minutes off the bench and were in a good rhythm offensively with 22 assists.
“This is the third straight year we have started 16-3, and that is very difficult to do in our league.”
FLC (16-3, 12-2 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) led early and increased its advantage to 48-31 at the halftime break. The Skyhawks led by only by nine points with three minutes to go in the half but stretched it to 17 behind defensive stops and transition offense.
“We wanted to wear them down,” Pietrack said. “They have injuries that make it hard for them right now with a short bench, but Chadron is scrappy and tough. We wanted to use our depth and just try to physically wear them down, and that really happened at the end of the first half when our bench guys played with an extra step with Chadron tired. They put the game away.”
DJ Miles played only four minutes in the first half and had three fouls, but it was no worry for the Skyhawks, who never trailed in the game. Brandon Wilson scored eight points in the game’s opening minutes, as he used a height advantage inside on Chadron’s Jeremy Ruffin to get easy layups. They weren’t all easy, though, as Wilson also hit a turnaround jump shot from the baseline in the middle of his dominant run. Wilson finished with 14 points and four rebounds.
Daniel Hernandez scored nine of his 14 points in the first half while he only played nine minutes.
Marquel Beasley earned an offensive rebound and put-back layup at the halftime buzzer to complete the big FLC run. He finished the game with a team-high 15 points and team-high nine rebounds. He also added two of the team’s seven blocked shots.
FLC senior Rasmus Bach continued his uplifted play of recent games, and he finished with 12 points.
Jordan Mills of Chadron State (3-16, 1-12 RMAC) was a problem for FLC in the first half, as he scored 11 points in the opening 20 minutes. He finished with 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Eric Jamerman added 17 points in the loss.
Riley Farris scored 11 points off the FLC bench, and he added six rebounds and two blocked shots.
The Skyhawks scored 96 points while only attempting seven free throws with five makes.
After four consecutive road games, the two longest road trips of the year for FLC from a mileage perspective, the Skyhawks will return home for three consecutive games beginning with Colorado Christian at 3 p.m. Saturday at Whalen Gymnasium in Durango.
“We’re tired after four straight road games,” Pietrack said. “But the team is starting to come together and gel. Coming home to the Whalen for three in a tie with Westminster for the conference lead with eight games to go, you can’t ask for much more than that.”