It was the second consecutive Friday night Fort Lewis College went on the road and led wire to wire to secure a big victory.
The FLC women’s basketball team was led by a huge game from sophomore guard Sydney Candelaria, as she scored 20 points and had eight rebounds, both game highs. The Skyhawks rode her play to a 66-60 win at Dixie State in St. George, Utah.
Before the game, FLC head coach Jason Flores told Candelaria she should be able to go for 18 points and seven rebounds. She outdid her coach’s projection.
“She was a problem for them,” Flores said. “Her athleticism, they kind of want to get in an open-court game, and that plays into her strengths. You give her lanes, and she’s a pretty effective player. We needed somebody on the road to step up and give us 20, and that was her tonight.”
FLC (9-11, 5-9 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) stormed out to a 16-10 lead after one quarter, as Candelaria poured in seven points in the opening 10 minutes. The lead was 31-19 at halftime.
The Skyhawks’ biggest advantage was 13 points with 8:58 to play in the fourth quarter. With 4:15 to go, Dixie State (10-8, 6-8 RMAC) went on a 10-1 run that spanned 3:41 of clock. The Skyhawks were able to stop the run, and Aubre Fortner, Kayla Herrera and Hanna Valencia combined to go 4-of-6 from the foul line down the stretch to preserve the FLC win.
“We held on in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter,” Flores said. “We knew they were going to make a run. We stayed poised, hit free throws to stretch it.”
Fortner had nine key points off the FLC bench, while Alyssa Yocky had nine points and four rebounds.
Herrera finished with eight points, five rebounds, seven assists and four steals for the Skyhawks. Her seven assists masked five turnovers.
“She draws attention,” Flores said of Herrera. “Whether you’re scoring or getting an assist, it doesn’t matter. Those are team points. Seven assists are as good as 14 points. She was in a position tonight of hitting a lot of nice passes. Having a positive assist to turnover game is very big on the road.”
It was the first RMAC meeting between the two schools. The well-funded Dixie State Trailblazers will play in the RMAC one more season before moving to Division I in the Western Athletic Conference.
Mariah Martin led the Trailblazers with 16 points. Ali Franks added 15, and London Pavlica had 10.
Saturday night, the Skyhawks will face Westminster College in Salt Lake City. The Griffins (15-3, 13-1 RMAC) bounced back from a road loss at first-place Colorado Mesa University (17-1, 14-0 RMAC) last Saturday with a 74-58 win Friday at home against Adams State.
“They have so many offensive weapons,” Flores said of the Griffins. “They want to push the tempo. They’ve got the preseason player of the year in Denise Gonzalez, and she’s a handful, especially in transition. It’s a tall task going there after tonight. We proved to our team tonight that there’s still no quit, we’re still going to come and battle people.”