“Lunchbox Mary” packed enough punch for everyone Saturday night.
Behind a career-high 23 points from Mary Rose Paiz, the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team feasted on the Colorado Mesa defense to the tune of a 92-57 victory on Senior Night on Saturday at Whalen Gymnasium.
Paiz said she was ecstatic about her performance in her final regular-season game in front of the home crowd.
“It was a blast. I wouldn’t have wanted anything else,” Paiz said.
The No. 15 Skyhawks didn’t take long to get going on the offensive end. A layup by Paiz and a 3 by Dana Schreibvogel caused Colorado Mesa coach Roger Walters to call a timeout just 48 seconds into the game. After Schreibvogel hit a bucket and was fouled, Walters called time again, this time with 18:17 left.
“It all started when Dana hit her two 3s at the beginning,” Paiz said. “I was like, ‘OK, we’re doing good. I want it.’ Every shot I took, I was like, ‘That’s good.’”
The FLC onslaught wouldn’t stop the rest of the half, as the Skyhawks went on a 25-4 run to build their lead to 36-12 with 6:20 to go in the frame.
Paiz hit three of FLC’s nine 3s in the half, scoring 14 points. Erika Richards chipped in eight of her 13, and Jamie Simmons added eight of her 15 as the Skyhawks shot 54 percent from the field en route to a 52-29 halftime lead over the Mavericks (13-13, 11-11 RMAC).
“Jamie’s really bought in. ... Ashley (Kuchar) and Erika are really playing right now, which is huge for us to get production from that position,” FLC head coach Mark Kellogg said.
Paiz finished a perfect 6 of 6 from 3 and 8 of 11 from the field, receiving a standing ovation midway through the second half as she exited her final regular-season home game as a Skyhawk.
“I got a little lump in my throat,” Paiz said of the crowd reaction. “I got a little teary-eyed. It was cool.”
Schreibvogel added 11 points, while fellow senior Jenna Santistevan added seven rebounds. Simmons pulled in six rebounds to go with her 15 points for FLC (22-4, 19-3 RMAC).
Colorado Mesa’s Kelsey Sigl, the leading scorer in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, scored 15, and Katrina Selsor had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
In terms of sharing and protecting the basketball, Saturday may have been FLC’s best effort all season.
Point guards Katerina Garcia and Alex Easterbrook, along with Kuchar, each had five assists as the Skyhawks had 25 total helpers to just nine turnovers.
“We share it unbelievably well ... (our point guards) are leading us,” Kellogg said.
By contrast, FLC hounded the Mavericks into 23 turnovers against just 14 assists and matched Colorado Mesa with 33 rebounds.
Fort Lewis will go for its second consecutive RMAC Shootout title and will start with UC-Colorado Springs at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Whalen Gym.