The Fort Lewis College men’s basketball team needed a win in the worst way after blowing an 18-point lead in Friday’s loss to CSU-Pueblo.
Matt Morris made sure FLC got it by leaving little to chance.
The 6-6 senior center scored 35 of the Skyhawks’ 66 points and had 13 rebounds, helping Fort Lewis hold off UC-Colorado Springs 66-60 on Saturday in Colorado Springs.
Morris’ 12th double-double of the season came exactly when the Skyhawks needed it most.
CSU-Pueblo mounted its comeback Friday with Morris out with foul trouble, but the Durango High School alumnus had no such woes Saturday, tallying 21 points after halftime, including the final free throws to seal the deal for the Skyhawks (12-10, 10-8 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference).
“It was the most dominant game even for him this year,” FLC head coach Bob Hofman said. “It was just spectacular. He scored over half our points. He willed us to the end.”
Fort Lewis, thanks to a 14-2 UCCS run to close the half, trailed 34-28 at intermission. The Skyhawks clawed back slowly before busting out on a 9-0 run to go up 49-42 with 11:03 to play.
“The main adjustment we made at the beginning of the second half was a verbal abuse adjustment, which basically means a play harder adjustment,” Hofman said with a laugh.
The Mountain Lions would rally, however, pulling ahead 56-54 with 4:41 to play. It was the last time UCCS (7-17, 6-12 RMAC) would hold a lead.
Morris tied the game with a layup, then Matt Billups scored the next four to put FLC up 60-56. After coming up with a steal on the next possession, FLC guard Marcus Ayala hit a pair of free throws to cap an 8-0 run to put the Skyhawks up 62-56 with 2:31 to go.
“With our team this year, we need to use ‘Oges’ (Morris) to the maximum amount,” Hofman said. “Even if he has an off day, we still need to use him.”
Jordan Carter’s layup cut the Fort Lewis lead to 64-60 with just more than a minute remaining, But Morris would seal it with two late free throws.
Kyle Clark scored 15 points to lead the Mountain Lions. UC-Colorado Springs also got 11 points from Alex Kohler and 10 more from Darius Pardner.
Matt Billups and Mike Matthews had nine points apiece for Fort Lewis, and Ayala added four steals.
FLC won the rebounding battle 33-29 and outshot the Mountain Lions 47 percent to 44 percent.
“We needed to do that against a team that’s been kind of down,” Hofman said. “Saturday nights in the RMAC are always tough on the road.”