One bad half plagued the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team, and the result was a lopsided 66-52 loss to Colorado Mesa University on Saturday.
“We played soft,” FLC head coach Jason Flores said of the Skyhawks’ first half.
The Skyhawks were without star freshman and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference-leading scorer Vivian Gray for the second game in a row. Gray did not make the weekend trip with an undisclosed injury. FLC went 1-1 on the weekend trip with a win Friday at Western State Colorado University.
It didn’t help that CMU connected on 63 percent of its shots in the first half while the Mavericks’ defense locked down the Skyhawks for a 45-18 halftime lead at Brownson Arena in Grand Junction, where the Mavericks are 10-3 this season.
“Obviously credit them; they shot completely lights out in the first half,” Flores said. “The disappointing part is we let the players who are capable of that have free reign and rhythm.”
The Skyhawks (19-6, 13-6 RMAC) were held to 17.9 percent on 5-of-28 shooting in the first half.
Three Mavericks (18-7, 12-7 RMAC) cracked double-digit scoring in the first half, and Erin Reichle nearly outscored the Skyhawks, as she scored 17 points before the intermission. Jaylyn Duran had 12 points and Ma’ata Epenisa had 10 points at the break.
The Skyhawks held CMU to 9-of-27 shooting in the second half, and the Mavs finished at 48.1 percent shooting on the night.
“In the second half, we played harder, we played smarter and we made it tougher on them,” Flores said. “We took away some of the shots we left them wide open for in the first half. We locked in in the second half and took away what they wanted to do.”
Reichle finished the game with 24 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Duran was held scoreless in limited minutes because of foul trouble in the second half to finish with 12 points. She added six rebounds and five assists. Epenisa had 12 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
FLC finished the night 17-for-51 for 33.3 percent shooting and outscored CMU 34-21 in the second half.
Flores said the offensive turnaround for the Skyhawks was similar to the defensive turnaround and came from playing harder and smarter.
“We didn’t have good movement, which made us take a lot of tough shots. We didn’t have the movement to create good shots,” Flores said of the first half. “In the second half, we did a better job with our spacing and our movement and creating good shots for each other. ... We have to learn our lesson from the first half, which I hope we did, and we have to move forward.”
Astrea Reed led the Skyhawks with 13 points, and she grabbed six boards.
Briana Clah, in her second game back after missing close to a month with an ankle injury, added 11 points and five rebounds off the bench.
Shelby Patterson added nine points, and Kelsey Wainright had eight points and a team-high eight rebounds.
FLC will get a few days of practice to regroup before the Skyhawks hit the road Friday to play Colorado Mines (15-9, 12-6 RMAC) at 6 p.m. in Golden.