Fort Lewis College women’s basketball ranks at or near the top in nearly every defensive statistic amongst teams in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. This weekend, the Skyhawks have to defend the top-two 3-point shooting teams in the RMAC.
FLC (4-4, 1-2 RMAC) will host South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (2-4, 0-3 RMAC) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and No. 18 Black Hills State (6-1, 2-1 RMAC) at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Whalen Gymnasium on the FLC campus in Durango.
The Skyhawks are the top 3-point defense in the conference after having allowed opponents to shoot only 25.2 percent from long range this season. Black Hills State is the top 3-point shooting team in the RMAC with a 35.7 percent success rate, while the Hardrockers are second at 37.1 percent.
“Last year, we ran into a buzz-saw when we played South Dakota Mines up there,” FLC head coach Jason Flores said. “They really shot it well, and we know that through experience. They’ve got multiple shooters, not just one or two kids. Both teams have multiple players that shoot it really well. Guarding what they run and making the 3-point line tough is definitely a point of emphasis.”
Flores said both teams get a lot of 3-point makes in transition with good ball movement. He said the Skyhawks have to follow that possibility from the beginning of each possession.
“Defensively, it’s one of our strengths this year, and their strength is shooting, so it will be interesting to see how that pans out,” Flores said.
FLC opened conference with a tough two-point loss at Adams State before a lopsided win at New Mexico Highlands and a loss at Colorado State University-Pueblo, as the Skyhawks had the two-time defending RMAC champion ThunderWolves in their grasp until the final 14 minutes of play.
The team ranks third in the RMAC with 73.8 points per game and is also third, having allowed opponents only 58.8 points, and that 15-point margin is the best in the conference. But FLC has shot only 39 percent from the field and hasn’t taken advantage of its defense, holding opponents to 34.7 percent shooting.
“It’s been like that with our team this year,” Flores said. “Defensively, we’ve been OK, then we just have been up-and-down offensively. The key for us has been effort. When we get great effort on both ends, we’re fine. But we get into lulls where we let off the gas and don’t play hard enough, and we’re not good enough to not play hard and still beat teams.”
FLC is led by senior forward Alyssa Yocky, who has averaged 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Kayla Herrera, a junior guard, has averaged 10.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and sophomore forward Jordan Carter has been big with 12.9 points per game on 50.5 percent shooting.
The Hardrockers will enter Saturday’s game led by Taylor Molstad’s 10.7 points per game, while Anna Haugen has led the team with 7.5 rebounds per contest. Sami Steffeck is a dangerous 3 shooter at 36.6 percent. S.D. Mines also has made 77.2 percent of its free throws, which is second best in the RMAC.
Black Hills’ Morgan Ham has averaged 13.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game and has shot 45.2 percent.
“She’s a post but a good shooter all over the floor, inside out,” Flores said of Ham. “She’s a physical matchup and can play on both ends.
“We’re going to see two good teams this weekend, that’s for sure. We’re excited to be home and try to get it done.”