Fort Lewis College stepped off the plane in South Dakota ready to play defense against the Hardrockers.
The FLC women’s basketball team held South Dakota School of Mines to 6-of-24 (25%) shooting in the first half and raced out to a 21-point lead in the second quarter. Though the Hardrockers would cut the Skyhawks’ advantage to as low as six points in the third quarter, Katrina Chandler, Jordan Carter and the Skyhawks had an answer for every run from the host Friday night at the King Center in Rapid City, South Dakota.
FLC would hold on for a 61-54 win behind 19 points, six assists, three steals and only one turnover from Chandler, a Durango High School alumna who set a new career high in scoring.
“There are times in games when you shoot it and you know it’s going in,” the junior transfer point guard said. “With the confidence of my team and coach behind me, it makes a huge difference.”
Chandler was 8-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range. The Skyhawks (7-1, 3-0 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) won despite shooting, and making, only two free throws the entire game.
“It was frustrating for us. Some calls didn’t go our way, but you expect that on the road,” FLC head coach Orlando Griego said. “The biggest thing was that we stuck to our gameplan to get up and down the floor and get shots up.”
Carter finished with 16 points and eight rebounds to lead FLC’s forwards. Bailey Osmer also had eight key points.
The Hardrockers (2-5, 1-3 RMAC) were led by 11 points from Sydney Leeper. Ryan Weiss and Anna Haugen each had 10 points. Haugen had a game-high nine rebounds, and Weiss added eight rebounds.
FLC committed only 10 turnovers and forced 17 and had a 17-7 advantage in points off turnovers to go with a 38-16 edge in scoring in the paint.
“Limiting their offensive possessions was big,” Chandler said. “They have two great shooters. (Weiss), her last game, she shot 7-of-9 from the 3-point line. Our emphasis coming in was to limit our turnovers. The less time they had the ball, the less time they had to score.”
FLC raced out to a 10-1 lead but saw it cut to 12-9 in the first quarter. But an 18-2 run had the lead up to 30-11.
“We wanted to keep them off-guard a bit with our defense,” Griego said. “We came in with our man defense but then had some substitutes and wanted to confuse them a bit with our zone, and we stayed in that for a bit.”
The Hardrockers cut it to 43-37 late in the third quarter, but a Chloe Warrington 3-pointer, one of two for her in the game for FLC, followed by an Osmer steal and fastbreak layup gave FLC a double-digit lead once more at 48-37 at the end of the third quarter.
A Chandler 3 followed by a Carter offensive rebound and layup had FLC ahead 55-37 with 8:30 to play, and the Skyhawks held on from there.
“This makes us really think we have a chance at an RMAC tournament,” said Chandler after the team’s first road game of the season. “Preseason, they ranked us 11th. That’s always in the back of our mind. Coming on the road, we are letting teams know that’s the last time they pre-rank Fort Lewis 11th.”
FLC will travel to play at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against Black Hills State at Spearfish, South Dakota. The Yellow Jackets (5-3, 2-2 RMAC) beat Adams State 85-51 on Friday night.
“They’re tough,” Griego said. “They have a really good team with a couple of all-conference players. We have to stick to our gameplan and are hopeful to get another win.”