Saturday’s tilt looked on paper to be a tight, defensive matchup.
Only one team got that memo.
The Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team held Metro State to 33-percent shooting in its second consecutive solid defensive outing, routing the Roadrunners 78-57 on Saturday at Whalen Gymnasium.
The Skyhawks (9-6, 6-5 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) were determined to set the tone from the opening tip, running out to a 14-4 lead to start the game en route to a 34-20 halftime edge on Metro State (6-9, 5-6 RMAC).
FLC quickly boosted the lead to as big as 55-30 in the second half and never looked back, earning a key victory over a team with which it was jostling for conference position for the second night in a row.
“Huge bounceback weekend for us. ... We got better this week. They executed what we wanted to execute,” FLC head coach Jason Flores said. “And the results were exactly what we needed.”
FLC did have 17 turnovers, but 21 assists and the defensive showing helped negate that. Metro State also hit just 16-of-26 free throw attempts, and FLC outrebounded the Roadrunners 41-28, including a 34-14 edge on the defensive glass.
“All week in practice we worked on defense and help side,” FLC’s Ashley Kuchar said. “And I think, like I said (Friday) night, it helped us in more ways than one that we finally trust each other. We started to mesh; we communicated more because we were relying on that help defense.”
Metro State’s leading scorer entering play, Amy Nelson, was held to 1-of-6 shooting from the floor and five points. Tai Jensen had 17 points and Cassie Lambrecht 14, but it was far from enough.
FLC, meanwhile, got 20 points and seven assists from Kuchar and 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists from Erika Richards. Christie Groh chipped in 13, while Kaile Magazzeni had eight points and eight rebounds.
The Skyhawks shot an impressive 59 percent from the field and hit 8-of-13 3-point attempts along with 22-of-26 free throw attempts. FLC also had 21 assists on 24 made field goals.
“The shots we hit were out of great offense, and the stops we were getting, we were playing really well defensively,” Flores said.
Kuchar also hit the 1,000 career point mark in the second half, joining Richards as the two Skyhawks to reach that milestone this season. And the accomplishment and its meaning wasn’t lost on either of FLC’s sharpshooters.
“It’s pretty kind of humbling a little bit because I know that great players before have been able to do that,” Richards said. “And when I was a freshman, watching Abby Jackson get her 1,000 points and then as a sophomore watching Dana (Schreibvogel) get her 1,000 points, I never thought that I’d be up there with them.”
“It feels great, and it’s awesome to have when it was announced (Saturday), to have the entire crowd and teammates, and everyone is excited for you,” Kuchar said.