One night after the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team struggled with only nine active players and more than half dealing with injuries or illness against No. 22 Colorado Mesa University, the Skyhawks banded together for a feel-good road win.
Jordan Carter, who had only three points on 1-of-7 shooting in the 78-53 loss at Mesa, delivered 21 points including the two game-winning free throws with 11 seconds to play in FLC’s 76-74 win Saturday night at Western Colorado University (16-9, 12-9 RMAC) in Gunnison.
“I just felt like we had 100 reasons to lay down and not win that game, and they did the opposite,” FLC head coach Jason Flores said. “We banded together, did whatever we needed to make sure that we won. That shows heart. That shows character and togetherness. If we have that, then we have all that we need.”
Carter, a sophomore forward, made all five of her free throws, including four in the game’s final 90 seconds of play to help send the Skyhawks to victory. She was 8-of-16 shooting despite being one of the key FLC players under the weather.
“She’s competitive enough and wanted to bounce back,” Flores said. “We got her the ball in different spots, got it to her where she likes it. She had a good game because of it and stepped up. She was one of a lot of players who stepped up. She’s fighting sickness, but she didn’t care. That was the theme for the whole team. We’ve got a ton of adversity and fought through it.”
FLC was without junior guard Kayla Herrera for a second consecutive game with an ankle injury. FLC was without its two starting guards it came into the season with, as freshman Alyssa Adams has been out since early January with an Achilles injury. For the second consecutive game, sophomore guard Tanisha Begay from Shiprock was huge in the starting lineup in place of Herrera. A night after she scored a career-high 19 points, Begay had only six points on 2-of-4 shooting from 3-point range. But she added six assists and five rebounds and had only two turnovers.
“I’m so happy for her,” Flores said. “She’s been waiting her turn. She’s just kind of broke out of her shell. She’s such a good person that you want success for a kid like that. She definitely was a spark plug for us and did a lot of positive things to help us win.”
FLC won despite the red-hot shooting of Western Colorado’s Chandler Willis, who had a game-high 23 points to go with a team-high seven rebounds. She was 8-of-12 shooting, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range.
Samantha Coleman added 15 points and five rebounds off the bench for the Mountaineers, and she took a 3-point shot with eight seconds to play to try to give the home team a lead. FLC forward Alyssa Yocky jumped out and contested the shot and controlled the rebound to wrap up the Skyhawks’ victory. Yocky, a senior forward, finished with 10 points and nine rebounds for FLC. Sophomore guard Sydney Candelaria had 10 points, too.
FLC took away the high post on the Mountaineers’ final possession and forced the opponent away from what it wanted to do. Flores knew that’s where the Mountaineers would attack and put an extra defender into the post to take it away.
The Skyhawks will finish the regular season at home at 5:30 p.m. Friday against Adams State University. Students on campus will get out that day for spring break, and the Skyhawks will hope for a strong home crowd to end the season. The Skyhawks have a chance to win four of their final five games of the schedule.
“Every team goes through adversity at some point, and this was our year that we hit that,” Flores said. “If we can get that done, get four of the last five, it shows again and reaffirms that we have a lot of heart. We can take that and move forward.”