Black Hills State threw everything it could offensively at the Fort Lewis College men’s basketball team.
The Yellow Jackets shot 70 percent in the first half and 62 percent for the game. They connected on 62 percent of their 3-pointers. They had a 34-22 edge in points in the paint.
None of it was enough.
Don’t get in a shootout with the Skyhawks.
FLC shot 63 percent, including 69 percent from the field after halftime, and a late 8-0 run allowed the Skyhawks to put away Black Hills State 86-75 on Saturday at Whalen Gymnasium.
The Skyhawks (8-3, 5-2 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) entered the weekend fifth in the nation in scoring, averaging more than 95 points per game. Early on, it seemed as though Black Hills State (5-6, 3-5 RMAC) would keep pace just fine, hitting 14-of-20 from the field in the first half and 5-of-6 from 3-point range to lead 40-38 at the break.
That turned out to be inaccurate. FLC put up 48 points in the second half, led by offensive pillars Alex Herrera and Nick Tomsick, who had 22 and 32 points, respectively. The duo offset a 22-point night from the Yellow Jackets’ Tommy Earl and 14 points from Yoshio Allen.
“To start out the second half, we started out pressing them, and that led to easier baskets on the run for us,” Herrera said.
Tomsick hit from 3, hit from the lane, hit from midrange, hit with hands in his face. He connected on 12-of-14 field-goal attempts and hit 4-of-5 from 3 to finish two points shy of his career high.
“I knew Black Hills didn’t really have a really good shot blocker, and they had so much attention on Chief (Herrera) in the paint that no one was really coming over and stepping up, and it really allowed that little five-foot floater to be effective,” Tomsick said.
Herrera, meanwhile, used an ever-improving hook shot to go with his typical array of power moves and a couple of midrange jumpers to continue his solid season, and he pulled in nine rebounds to help FLC outrebound the Yellow Jackets 26-18.
“I think it’s important to mix it up a little bit because it does keep them off balance, and it keeps them a little bit more hesitant,” Herrera said.
Still, despite those offensive outbursts, the outcome was in doubt late.
A Joey Mitchell layup cut the FLC lead to 76-72 with 3 minutes, 53 seconds remaining. But FLC proved the stronger closer, with two Tomsick buckets sandwiched around a Kody Salcido 3-pointer and followed by a Herrera free throw to push the lead out to 84-72 with 31 seconds to play.
Salcido’s 3 gave him seven points a night after he set a career high with 13. Mike Matthews added nine points and five rebounds, and Will Morse had five assists against one turnover as the Skyhawks’ supporting cast continued to make a big impact.
“Lucas Archuleta had a great cross-court pass to Tomsick, who hit a big shot ... and Salcido hitting that corner 3 to kind of put the dagger in,” FLC associate head coach Bob Pietrack said.
FLC next will play N.M. Highlands at 8 p.m. Friday in Las Vegas, N.M., then Western N.M. at 8 p.m. Saturday in Silver City, N.M.