A 10-0 run to open the game and a 15-0 third-quarter run fueled by defensive execution saw Fort Lewis College earn a big win Saturday night.
As Colorado State University-Pueblo visited the Skyhawks inside Whalen Gymnasium in Durango, FLC controlled the game thanks to its defense and secured a 67-54 victory to sweep the opening weekend of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference schedule.
The win saw FLC snap a 12-game losing streak against CSU-Pueblo dating back to 2012.
“I don’t think a lot of the younger girls know what we’re experiencing right now,” said FLC senior Kayla Herrera-Flores. “It’s just almost surreal. You go in and almost expect to beat them year after year, and we haven’t been able to capitalize. It just feels amazing, just an awesome feeling, especially knowing that we are protecting our home court and are 2-0 in conference makes it even better.”
FLC (6-1, 2-0 RMAC) held the ThunderWolves (2-5, 1-1 RMAC) to 33.9% shooting and 1-of-17 from 3-point range to roll to a fifth consecutive victory.
The Skyhawks backed up their defensive effort with a solid enough shooting night of their own at 40.3% from the field and 6-of-14 from 3.
Jordan Carter led the Skyhawks with 15 points and nine rebounds. Sydney Candelaria added 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Herrera-Flores had 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“Setting the momentum for the rest of my teammates is awesome,” said Carter, who had FLC’s first four points. “The looks coming from the outside are phenomenal. I love playing with the entire team. I know if I’m not scoring inside, I have the wide-open kick-out. The trust we have is great.”
The Skyhawks led 20-12 after one quarter and 33-23 at halftime. The lead grew as large as 19 early in the third quarter behind a 15-0 scoring run.
“A couple times, we’ve told the girls we really need to start off fast,” Griego said. “Start off quick and make sure the other team adapts to our play. I think it’s hard for other teams to adapt to it because we get up and down really quick.”
With a 55-40 lead going into the fourth quarter, the Skyhawks’ priority was to prevent CSU-Pueblo from going to the foul line after the ThunderWolves kept the game close with an 8-of-11 performance shooting free throws in the third quarter. The Skyhawks followed Griego’s orders and limited CSU-Pueblo to 4-of-6 at the line in the final 10 minutes.
Katrina Chandler, a junior point guard for FLC and a Durango High alumna, finished the weekend with nine assists and zero turnovers. She was plus-21 on the floor Saturday night with four points and five assists.
After seven games in a row at home to open the season, FLC will go on the road Friday and Saturday to face South Dakota School of Mines and Black Hills State. Griego said FLC will use it’s “no excuses” motto to approach the week and the road trip.
“Get your homework done before,” Carter said when asked what advice she would give the underclassmen before the long trip to South Dakota. “Just be prepared. It’s exhausting to travel, especially all the way to South Dakota. We went there two years ago. The incoming freshmen didn’t experience that wonderful trip. Be prepared because South Dakota, those two teams always bring it.”