The Fort Lewis College women's basketball team - the No. 5 team in the United States - finally played a game in
After three wins in California and one win in New Mexico, the Skyhawks made their home-state debut Friday night in
Durango against Dixie State College of Utah.
The Skyhawks won 68-54 on their home court in a frustrating game that left coach Mark Kellogg thinking the Skyhawks
had played on Mars.
"That's not the performance of the fifth-ranked team in the country," Kellogg said as he mulled a foreign-looking
"But it's a win. We fought. We got through it," Kellogg said, adding that the Skyhawks had trouble sustaining
consistent play against the stubborn and athletic Dixie State team.
"We can't play for stretches like that. We've got to sustain it for 40 minutes," Kellogg said.
Senior guard Laura Haugen, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, agreed.
"We couldn't sustain anything (Friday night)," Haugen said.
"We had a lot of nervous energy; we weren't ourselves," she said, reviewing the first home game at Whalen Gymnasium
in front of family and friends with the high national ranking.
"We ... had to grind it out," she said.
Haugen hit two 3-pointers in the first half when the Skyhawks started with an emotional run after the opening
whistle. After senior teammate Katie Mackey hit two more consecutive 3-pointers, the Skyhawks had their biggest lead
of the first half at 27-12.
But the Red Storm answered with a surge from a lineup featuring four junior college transfers and freshman Johnna
The Skyhawks went scoreless for a four-minute stretch.
Dixie State closed the first half with an 11-4 run, cutting FLC's halftime lead to 31-23.
Then the Skyhawks launched into the opening minutes of the second half.
"We talked about it. We talked about ... how important the first four minutes of the second half are," Kellogg said.
"So, we come out, and we let them cut it to what ... one or two or three points," Kellogg said of the opening
possessions of the second half when Dixie State's Veronica Siqueiros hit a long 3-pointer from the left side and then
converted a traditional 3-point play off a layup.
FLC's lead shrunk to 31-29.
"Now we're in a dog fight," Kellogg said.
But a pesky defense, full court and half court, continued to pay dividends for the Skyhawks, who eventually forced 27
turnovers from the Red Storm.
With senior Audrey George collecting a game-high 12 rebounds, FLC started to convert more offensive opportunities.
Senior Allison Rosel powered in eight second-half points, including a perfect 6-for-6 from the foul line. Mackey hit
two more three pointers to finish with 15 points (on five 3s). Rosel finished with 16 points and six rebounds.
"We did some things well. Our defense helped," Kellogg said. "In the second half, I thought our pace of play was
better (after the first few minutes)."
During one crucial stretch, Lauren McCulloch hit a basket after collecting an offensive rebound for the Skyhawks.
Then Mackey drilled a 3-pointer from the corner after taking a pass from junior Abby Jackson.
Jackson followed with a steal and a layup as the Skyhawks wrapped up their fifth consecutive win to open the season.
Both teams are back in action today during the second round of the annual Skyhawk Classic.
Dixie State (0-1) will take on Western State College (1-0) at 1 p.m. today. Western State beat Midwestern State 71-53
on Friday afternoon.
Fort Lewis (5-0) will play Midwestern State (1-1) at 5:30 p.m. today.
"Thankfully, we get to play again right away, and we can redeem ourselves," Haugen said.
"We can get right back to playing Skyhawk basketball."