A cold shooting performance in the first half proved too much for the slumping Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team to overcome Saturday night in Utah.
FLC shot 6-of-24 from the field and 1-of-8 from 3-point range in the first half and trailed host Dixie State 33-23 at the halftime break. The Skyhawks clawed to within 47-43 going to the fourth quarter, but three consecutive 3-pointers for the Trailblazers once again made it a double-digit game that FLC could not overcome in a 66-59 loss in St. George, Utah.
The loss stretched FLC’s losing streak to four games to conclude a tough four-game road trip. It was a big game, as the two teams are now tied in the conference standings with three games to play in the regular season. During the losing streak, FLC has fallen from fourth in the standings to a tie for seventh place with Dixie State. FLC is only one game in front of Metro State for a spot in the eight-team conference tournament. At the same time, FLC is also only one game out of fifth place.
“Every game the last seven games, we knew they were all going to be tough,” FLC head coach Orlando Griego said. “Obviously, we wanted better outcomes than we’ve gotten. It’s hard when you’re fighting from behind. We find ourselves fighting from behind right now. It’s been tough for us.”
The Skyhawks (15-9, 11-8 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) relied on interior post play for its scoring Saturday, as Jordan Carter led the Skyhawks with 21 points and seven rebounds. Freshman forward Jordan Vasquez added 16 points and six rebounds.
Carter was big in getting FLC back in the game in the third quarter when she scored nine of her points.
“Both Jordans did a great job getting their defenders in foul trouble,” Griego said. “We told them to continue to attack, take them off the dribble and be strong down there and go finish. They were strong. Credit to them for stepping up and scoring the ball at will and being tough.”
Dixie State (16-9, 11-8 RMAC) was much better than FLC in the first half, as it shot 54.2% from the field and made four 3-pointers. If not for a 10-of-12 free-throw shooting effort for FLC in the first half, with Carter and Vasquez a combined 7-of-8, the 10-point deficit could have been much larger.
Keslee Stevenson led the Trailblazers with 19 points. Point guard London Pavlica added 13 and six rebounds. Ali Franks also scored 11 points and had seven rebounds in the win.
After FLC fought within 47-43 going to the final 10 minutes. Franks, Madi Loftus and Stevenson each made a big 3, and suddenly the FLC deficit was 58-47.
A 3 from Kayla Herrera-Flores of FLC got the Skyhawks back within six at 58-51 with 6:43 to go, but the Trailblazers’ continued strong defense would not allow FLC to get closer. Herrera-Flores finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
FLC finished a strong 19-of-24 at the foul line but went only 2-of-15 from 3-point range. The poor shooting came on a night where FLC had a solid 37-29 edge in rebounding.
“We’re really in a slump with shooting,” Griego said. “The biggest thing for us is getting confidence to shoot it and keep shooting it. It’s been a struggle for us on the road. Getting back to our gym where we are familiar with the rims will be nice.”
The Skyhawks will return to Durango for two tough home games next Friday and Saturday against No. 19 Colorado Mesa University (21-3, 17-1 RMAC) and Western Colorado (17-6, 15-4 RMAC).
Friday night’s contest against the nationally-ranked Mavericks will be a white-out game with the FLC fans asked to wear white.
“Every game moving forward is the biggest game of our season,” Griego said. “It’s not to put pressure on the team, but we have to take care of home court.
“I hope the fans come celebrate our team for all the hard work we’ve put in. Obviously, it’s a big rivalry. We’d love to see a big crowd in support of us and our hard work. The girls are going to bring.”