On Saturday afternoon, both of the Fort Lewis College Skyhawk basketball teams won their respective games over the Colorado Christian University Cougars handily. The final score of the women’s game was 74-43 and the final score of the men’s game was 88-62.
FLC Women Get Back on Track
Coming into the game after uncharacteristically losing three out of their last four, the ladies were out for blood in this one.
Senior guard Briana Clah got hurt in the first of those three losses and the impact of her was really felt during the losing streak, Skyhawk head coach Jason Flores said.
“It has been big,” Flores said. “You’re talking about a senior who understands everything and was leading the conference in assist to turnover ratio while being second overall in assists. She was getting everyone the ball and she is a big threat on the perimeter.”
In this matchup, the Skyhawks did not let the absence of Clah stop them from punishing the Cougars early and often.
By the end of the first quarter of play, FLC had a 21-6 lead that seemed to be insurmountable to CCU. They had 14 early points in the paint compared to CCU’s two and were just crushing the boards with 12 in the first quarter alone.
By halftime, the game was out of hand with FLC leading by 20, 42-22, over CCU.
In FLC’s last home game on January 6, this Skyhawk team had a big halftime lead against UCCS but let them come back a bit in the second half. However, in this one, the Skyhawks kept the pedal down and pulled away even more in the second half.
The difference was that FLC had to fine tune a few things defensively, Flores said.
“It was their adjustment and then our adjustment back to them and I think we did a good job of that,” he said.
By the time the final horn sounded off in Whalen, the margin was at 31 and the W was going in the win column for FLC.
“This was one of those games where we didn’t run a lot of sets and we didn’t iso a whole lot,” Flores said. “We just wanted, to let it flow a bit and let our players get back the momentum and kind of get into that rhythm.”
Senior guard Astrea Reed led all players with 16 points on 4-12 shooting while star freshman Vivian Gray added another double-double to her impressive resume with 11 points and 11 boards.
The win puts FLC in second place in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference with a 17-4 overall record and an 11-4 RMAC record while dropping CCU to 6-13 (4-10).
FLC Men Extend RMAC Lead
The FLC men have gone 3-1 in November, 8-1 in December and are now going to finish January at 6-1 in the month thanks to a big win over a bottom-dwelling CCU team. The win pushes the the RMAC lead over Colorado Mines to three and improves FLC to 17-3 (13-2) while dropping CCU to 3-17 (2-12).
The game began close with FLC only holding a narrow five point advantage, 22-17, with about 11 minutes left in the first half, but then everything changed.
By the three minute mark of the first half, the Skyhawks had opened up a 17 point lead thanks to a relentless 20-8 run that was fueled by seniors Rasmus Bach and Brandon Wilson.
About a minute later, the lead had swollen to 23 as a 26-8 run had finally come to an end with the score being 48-25.
The first half ended with FLC being up by 18, 50-32, and Wilson already nearing a double-double.
However, it was not all roses for FLC in the first half of the game. Senior playmaker Daniel Hernandez went down with an apparent knee injury early in the first half and it had the entire gym holding their breath. Luckily, it was not significant and Hernandez was able to re-enter the game.
“Yeah I didn’t love that at all especially him being a senior and what he means to our team,” coach Bob Pietrack said. “Lady luck helped us and we dodged a little bit of a bullet there but he is fine.”
It was more of the same in the second half for FLC as with 11:41 remaining, the lead was at 25 and the Skyhawks were on cruise control.
Pietrack put on his jacket and the final buzzer sounded while the scoreboard read 88-62, an FLC win.
Wilson and DJ Miles led all FLC’s scoring with 16 points each and Wilson also tallying a ridiculous 15 boards, finishing off his double-double and filling up his respective box score.
“We forced tough shots and that made for easy rebounds,” Wilson said.
“16 and 15, five assists, no turnovers, three blocks,” Pietrack said. “That’s an unbelievably good statline but as you think of college basketball at our level it is seniors and as the calendar turns to February and the games get bigger that’s what you expect from your seniors.”
Next up for the two teams are two home games next weekend with New Mexico Highlands up first on Friday night. Then two enormous games against CSU-Pueblo on Saturday night with both women’s games at five and both men’s games at 7.
“Next weekend, those are some really good teams coming here so he have to be ready to go,” Pietrack said.
CSU-Pueblo defeated the FLC women in December and are in first place by two games over the Skyhawks at the moment.
Flores said the message will be to focus on Friday.
“It doesn’t matter what you wanna do on Saturday if you drop the game on Friday cause then you’re putting yourself in a bad spot where if you beat Pueblo it doesn’t matter and they have a lead on you that you won’t makeup,” Flores said,