The Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team is in a tough spot.
The Skyhawks are in a three-game slide and have lost four of their last six games to sit 7-6 overall and in a tie for sixth in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference at 4-5. And the reason for their recent struggles has been tough to pinpoint, if for no other reason than it seems to be a different small thing nightly that’s been the issue.
Against Western New Mexico last Saturday, it was an inability to close as the Mustangs ended the game on a 10-0 run as FLC suddenly went cold from the floor and the free throw line.
Against New Mexico Highlands last Friday, it was a 33-percent shooting night.
Against Black Hills State on Jan. 4, it was a combination of fouls and somewhat spotty shooting in the second half.
“It’s hard to put your thumb on it because ... it has been little different things,” FLC head coach Jason Flores said. “That’s what we worked on, and that’s what we talked about. We can’t be a good team unless everybody involved, all five players on the court, have to be good at the same time. ... We have yet to put a game together where all of our key cogs are hitting on all cylinders.”
An improved RMAC hasn’t made things any easier on the Skyhawks. Colorado Mesa, CSU-Pueblo and Black Hills State have put a gap on the rest of the field, with FLC among a bevy of teams sitting with league records between 5-4 and 4-5, including this weekend’s opponents, Regis and Metro State.
“Especially this year, where everybody’s good,” Flores said. “You see it in the conference standings. I mean, look at Regis – they’re a talented, good basketball team. They’re sitting one game ahead of us. You look at Metro – they’re a great program that’s sitting tied (with FLC).”
Developing consistency would go a long way, particularly out of the key offensive pieces of the puzzle. And Flores said he’s looking for an upgrade on the defensive end, as well, with the Skyhawks sitting 12th in the RMAC in scoring defense at 70.3 points per game.
The Skyhawks will get a stiff test Friday, with Regis leading the conference in points per game at 75.9.
“We’re putting up enough points to win games. We need to be better defensively,” Flores said. “The frustrating part is we’re just really close. We’re a good team. We’re close to being a real good team. That little piece is a hard piece.”
If there’s any consolation to be found, consider this: The Skyhawks were in a similar position last year, sitting 8-8 through 16 games. Last year’s team responded with a nine-game winning streak that catapulted FLC to its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. That group kept plugging away before ultimately getting to the dance. The hope is that this squad, which has several holdovers from a season ago, will be able to do the same.
“I would be more worried if we weren’t having good practices or if they didn’t care, weren’t invested,” Flores said. “That’s not this team.”