Last night, the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team fell in a crushing defeat against the Westminster College Griffins, 64-58. The loss locked the Skyhawks into a sixth place finish in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and in the upcoming RMAC tournament.
The Skyhawks will now have to travel to Spearfish, South Dakota and play the third seeded Black Hills State University in their first round matchup. BHSU has the fourth ranked defense in the entire nation and already defeated FLC in January by a score of 53-48.
FLC, which was in the conversation for winning the RMAC and getting the one seed in the RMAC tourney all season long, has struggled down the stretch of the regular season. After starting the year hot, 15-1, the Skyhawks finished their final 12 regular season games 5-7.
Last night was also senior night for the Skyhawks and was the last home game that the five Skyhawk seniors will get to play at Whalen. Guard Astrea Reed, guard Shelby Patterson, guard Briana Clah, forward Kelsey Wainright, and center Natalie Stilwell were the seniors celebrated after the game.
“It’s up to us as coaches to do better,” Jason Flores, FLC head coach, said. “Somehow we have to put them in better positions. I thought we, for a stretch there, were getting the looks that we wanted to get. We had the ball in the hands of some of the players that we wanted to have the ball in. It was just one of those games where the shots didn’t fall.”
The old adage is that basketball is a game of runs. That was truly demonstrated in the game last night.
It was the same story but a different night for the Skyhawks. FLC started off the game slow, going down 11-8 at the end of the first quarter. Westminster then scored one more basket to push their lead to five, but then the Skyhawks took over.
FLC then went on a 15-0 run and took a 10-point advantage over the Griffins, 23-13. During the run, the Skyhawks were powered by their freshman leader Vivian Gray and Stillwell.
The Skyhawks took their largest lead of the game at 30-18 with just under four minutes left in the second quarter. The Griffins’ freshman guard Kaylee Carlsen then went on an 8-0 run by herself to end the half and shrink the Skyhawk lead to just four.
It was back and forth in the third quarter with each team trading buckets, until Westminster, down 38-32 at the time, went on an 8-0 run at the end of the third quarter to take the lead 40-38.
FLC came back behind their two stars Gray and Reed and went on a 18-4 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter and took a 12-point lead, 56-44, with just 5:42 left in the ballgame. It looked like the Skyhawks were going to cruise the rest of the way for the victory.
However, Westminster had one more run in them, and this one sealed the game away.
A layup by Gray were the only two points the Skyhawks scored the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Westminster scored 20 points in the last 5:42 and pulled off the victory. They finished the game on a 20-2 run.
“We got tight,” Flores said. “We missed a lot of easy shots, had some turnovers, allowed them to shoot to good of a field goal percentage in that stretch and we still could have gotten some stops that could have held them at bay. We just lost momentum and got really tight.”
The Skyhawks shot poorly throughout the game. FLC was 2-19 from three-point range, 10.5 percent, and just 21-66 overall from the field, 31.8 percent. The Skyhawks were also outrebounded by four and had less assists than Westminster.
“I don’t know, it’s tough,” Flores said. “When you only make two of them, you obviously want to come back and say that we should’ve maybe not taken them. I didn’t feel like a lot of them were bad shots. That’s the hard part. We have to shoot better than that.”
The loss put the Skyhawks with a final regular season record of 20-8 (14-8). Westminster will finish their season 16-10 (15-7).
The Skyhawks will play at BHSU on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the first round of the RMAC tournament.