They didn’t care how it happened. All that mattered is that they had won.
The Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team saw a 17-point third-quarter lead evaporate Friday night at home against an Adams State University team it had lost to 70-55 on the road in Alamosa only three days earlier.
So when the Skyhawks turned the ball over in each of its final five possessions of regulation, the entire team could take a collective exhale when a last-second wide-open layup from Adams State guard Angelline Nagaek rolled off the front of the rim and out of the basket to give FLC a second chance.
After one overtime, FLC would get a third chance. At the end of two overtimes, the Skyhawks then got a fourth chance.
And in the third overtime, believed to be the first triple overtime game in FLC women’s basketball history, guard Sydney Candelaria hit a huge 3-point shot and Jordan Vasquez was able to come through with two big baskets to give Fort Lewis College an uplifting 88-85 victory inside Whalen Gymnasium. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Skyhawks (5-9 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference), and it was only the team’s second home win in seven tries.
“It was tough. Credit to Adams State, they really fought. They hit some shots, competed and are really scrappy,” FLC head coach Orlando Griego said. “The biggest thing for us, though, is we kept fighting, people stuck together. Ultimately, it was a long game, but we’re very happy to get this win.”
Vasquez finished with game-highs of 29 points and 15 rebounds for FLC. She scored her new career high as she played 51 minutes, 37 seconds. She was one of two FLC players to play more than 51 minutes along with senior guard Katrina Chandler, who finished with 11 points and seven assists.
“I had so much adrenaline. Third overtime? Alright, let’s go,” Vasquez said. “Those overtime minutes, I really don’t feel it during the game because there’s so much adrenaline. It’s exciting.”
In Tuesday’s loss at Adams State (3-8 RMAC), FLC turned the ball over 29 times. The Skyhawks struggled in that department again Friday with 23 more giveaways that led to 24 points for Adams State.
The Grizzlies also made a season-high 16 shots from 3-point range, as they shot 16-of-42 from 3 in the game compared to 7-of-19 for FLC.
But FLC outrebounded the Grizzlies 47-39 and had a massive 42-18 advantage in points scored in the paint along with 12 second-chance points on 10 offensive rebounds.
“We didn’t defend as well as we could have down the stretch. They kept their run alive, and they have good athletes and were pressuring us,” Griego said. “Credit to our toughness, I think that’s the biggest thing. Our girls did a really good job of getting to the free-throw line, drawing fouls, being physical right back. They fouled out a few people, and we were going to continue to be aggressive as it went down to the wire.”
Candelaria hit a monster 3 in the third overtime for FLC, as she continues to play through a severe injury. She gave FLC 47 minutes on the floor and finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Bailey Osmer added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Skyhawks. Chloe Warrington also made 3-of-4 shots from 3-point range to finish with nine points. Alison Chanhthala also scored nine.
Adams State, which fell to 0-6 on the road this year, saw career highs from Laura Gutierrez with 27 points and seven made 3-pointers, as she went 7-of-13 from deep and 10-of-21 shooting overall. She also had four steals.
“We lost our defender at times,” Griego said. “We had a breakdown on our defense closing out or not knowing where a shooter is. Gutierrez did a great job tonight and shot the ball very well. She was feeling it, and there were times she had a hand in her face and was still knocking shots down. Biggest thing for us was sticking it out and finding a way to win.”
Elaina Watson and Nageak each finished with 14 pints, while Watson led the Grizzlies with seven rebounds.
FLC will stay home for two more games with a matchup with CSU-Pueblo at 4 p.m. Saturday before a 1 p.m. home finale Tuesday against Metropolitan State University- Denver in a makeup game from a previously postponed contest. FLC will honor its four graduation eligible players in a senior day ceremony Saturday.
“Being able to win is really helpful, but the biggest thing for us is to rest and recover,” Griego said.