After two tough losses on the road last weekend, the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team could have returned home with heads hung low. Head coach Jason Flores said his team did not let it have an effect on the team’s direction.
The Skyhawks (6-7, 2-5 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) fell 78-61 at Metro State University-Denver in a game that was much closer than the score indicated before a gut-wrenching 66-65 loss at Chadron State a night later in a game FLC controlled until the final 30 seconds.
Now, the Skyhawks will host University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (5-8, 4-3 RMAC) on Friday and Colorado School of Mines (6-6, 3-4 RMAC) on Saturday, with both tip-offs set for 5:30 p.m.
“They haven’t let those games get to them,” Flores said of his team. “In fact, it’s been a little motivating, which is great. A team can go two ways after losses like that: they can lay down or they can get motivated to do better, and they were motivated to do better. It’s a good thing.”
FLC will look to get back to its winning ways by rebounding and scoring in the paint. Alyssa Yocky has led the team with 12.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, and her rebounds rank third in the conference. Jordan Carter is coming off a sluggish weekend in which she battled foul trouble but has still averaged 11.2 points per game to go with 5.2 rebounds, and she has shot a strong 48.2 percent from the field. FLC also has Sydney Candelaria at 10.8 points per game, while Kayla Herrera has scored another 10.5.
FLC will face a pair of well-rounded teams. UCCS is led by Jae Ferrin’s 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, while Abby Feickert has scored 8.2 per contest. Mines is led by Raven Herrera’s 10.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, while Nicole Archambeau and Denali Pinto have both scored more than 12 points per game.
“It’s a little easier when a team has one go-to player. These teams, they’re very well rounded,” Flores said. “We have to guard multiple players on the floor that can hurt you, and that presents a challenge in itself. If we defend like we’re capable, then we can make it hard for people to score. We’re at a crux of our season right now, and we have to get consistent at what we do.”
FLC lost freshman guard Alyssa Adams, a starter, during the first half of the loss at Metro State. Kaitlyn Romero, Tanisha Begay and Hanna Valencia all stepped in to fill those minutes. Senior guard Kelsey Wainright also returned from injury at Chadron State and had five points in 10 minutes. Flores had expected to get Wainright back for this weekend’s games, but last Saturday was a surprise.
“It definitely wasn’t my call,” he said. “Kelsey knew we were really shorthanded. She was ready to go physically or else she wouldn’t have played, but she’s battling through a lot. Any time she is on the floor, she’s gonna be battling through pain to play. But she wanted to play. She can only go about 10 minutes, but she’s gonna play a spark plug role for us for a few good minutes a couple times a game, and that’s big for us.”
FLC should also benefit from the return of MorningRose Tobey, a Division I transfer who had missed the last seven games with injury.
No matter who is on the floor, Flores knows this weekend is crucial against a couple of teams ahead of FLC in the conference standings.
“It’s mid-January, and there is no more learning curve,” he said. “We put ourselves in a bit of a hole, and we’ve got only one direction to go to make it happen. All we can worry about is one game at a time, chipping away and making up ground. We put ourselves in a position, and we can’t do anything but fight out of it.”