Fort Lewis College had four chances in a 55-55 game to take its first lead of the game. It never happened, and the Skyhawks would never lead Friday night.
In the first game of a four-game road trip, the Fort Lewis College men’s basketball team fell 80-70 to University of Colorado at Colorado Springs on Friday night at the Gallogly Events Center in Colorado Springs.
“We had good looks at it, we just couldn’t get the ball to go in when we had it tied,” FLC head coach Bob Pietrack said. “We didn’t play good enough. They shot a very high percentage, got rebounds, got into transition and killed us in fasbtreak points. Too many turnovers in the first half dug us a hole.”
The Skyhawks (10-4, 4-4 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) received 36 points and six rebounds from junior forward Riley Farris, who went 17-of-23 shooting (73.9%), but only senior Danny Garrick joined him in double-digit scoring with 12 points. UCCS (9-4, 5-3 RMAC) got a huge first half from Blend Avdili and a monster second half from Padiet Wang to secure the win. Wang finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three steals. He had 20 points in the second half. Avdili scored all 18 of his points in the first half.
“(Farris) is a really good player offensively,” Pietrack said. “We need him to rebound for us, be a better presence on the defensive end, but he’s a special talent offensively.
“We let (Avdili) get open shots in the first half. Wang was really big in the second.”
Garrick had only three points in the second half. The final 20 minutes were the Farris show, as he scored 23 points in the second half.
Both teams shot better than 50% from the field, but 3-point shooting was a difference. The Mountain Lions made 9-of-24, while FLC was 5-of-17. The Skyhawks also made only 7-of-12 free throws to 7-of-9 for UCCS, which won the rebound battle 33-27 and used 10 offensive rebounds to score 10 second-chance points.
The Skyhawks trailed as much as 37-23 in the first half but stormed back to get within 41-34 at halftime. Behind Farris’ hot shooting, FLC tied the game at 55-55 with 12:28 to play. FLC would get defensive stops, but two missed 3-pointers, missed layups by Akuel Kot and Brenden Boatwright on another trip down the floor followed by another Kot missed layup through contact that sent him crashing hard to the floor without the benefit of a foul call led to a fastbreak chance for UCCS. The Mountain Lions took advantage and regained the lead at 57-55 on a big dunk from Parker Gaddis with 10:15 to play. FLC would never tie the game again.
While Farris kept shooting and making, so did Wang. But when Farris couldn’t get enough help around him, as nobody other than Farris or Garrick scored more than six points, Wang could lean on Alijah Comithier and Gaddis. Comithier finished with 20 points and six rebounds, and he made 3-of-6 from 3 and 8-of-11 from the field. Gaddis had a game-high nine assists.
FLC turned the ball over 17 times and was on the wrong end of a 15-2 scoring difference in fasbtreak points.
Now, the Skyhawks will turn around and face Colorado School of Mines (10-5, 6-2 RMAC), the first-place team in the RMAC, at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lockridge Arena in Golden. Mines is in a three-way tie for first place with Dixie State and Black Hills State.
“We have to do our best to get ready,” Pietrack said. “We’re playing the class of the RMAC in Mines. They’re a great program and are very, very good. We have to play our best.”