Welcome to the Jason Flores era of Fort Lewis College women’s basketball.
Thus far, not much has changed in the win column.
The Skyhawks built up a lead as big as 22 points before holding off McMurry down the stretch to pick up a 64-53 victory in their season opener and the opening game of the Ashbrook Classic on Friday in Wichita Falls, Texas.
It was the first game as FLC head coach for Flores, and while he was pleased with a double-digit victory away from home, he was a bit disappointed the Skyhawks didn’t build on a substantial lead, instead letting the Warhawks get within range.
“You can never be disappointed going on the road and winning by double digits,” Flores said. “At the same time, we could’ve played better. We missed a lot of shots we normally would hit, which would’ve given us more momentum.”
Erika Richards, the team’s leading returning scorer, picked up where she left off in March, scoring 15 points to lead FLC (1-0).
Katerina Garcia, who was hampered in the preseason with an eye injury, and Ashley Kuchar each had 12 points.
Christie Groh battled foul trouble and narrowly missed a double-double, scoring nine and pulling in 10 boards.
Kaile Magazzeni had 12 rebounds off the bench.
Both posts – Groh and Magazzeni – are among players seeing expanded roles this season.
“This is their opportunity now, and when they have those opportunities, they have to take advantage of that,” Flores said.
There were a couple of shaky areas for FLC. The Skyhawks committed 20 turnovers and hit just 12 of 22 free throws. But the Skyhawks’ defense didn’t miss a beat, holding McMurry to 28-percent shooting, and the Warhawks’ leading scorer, Keshia Collins, made just 4 of 15 attempts.
FLC will play host Midwestern State at 6 p.m. Saturday in the finale of the Ashbrook Classic.