A strong inside-out game and stingy defense staked the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team to a 10-point lead.
Losing sight of how they got a lead that big cost the Skyhawks a win.
Minnesota-Crookston battled back to even at halftime, then shot 48 percent from the field after intermission to outlast the Fort Lewis College women 69-61 on Friday at the Grand Canyon University Thanksgiving Classic in Phoenix.
“We got up 10 in the first half, and then we just didn’t play well defensively,” Fort Lewis head coach Jason Flores said.
“We kind of were sticking to everything that we do, and we got away from that, tried to play a little more one-on-one, and that’s not our team.”
The Skyhawks (1-2) built the lead on the back of a strong inside game from Christie Groh, who led all scorers with 24 points to go with eight rebounds. Her prowess opened up opportunities on the perimiter for players such as Ashley Kuchar, who poured in 18.
Katerina Garcia set a school record with nine steals to help the defensive effort. But she and Kuchar combined for 14 of FLC’s 22 turnovers against just 17 assists, and Flores said the Skyhawks tried to force the action offensively too much after halftime, shooting just 31 percent, which adversely affected their defensive effort.
“In the second half, unfortunately, we missed some shots we’re normally going to make, but we let that affect our defense,” Flores said. “It has to be the opposite. Defense has to lead to offensive momentum.
“We were pressing offensively, and we got out of what we do.”
Ashley Martell and Brittani Wiese led the way for Minnesota-Crookston (2-1) with 13 points each, while Laurie Tyson pulled in 13 rebounds.
The Skyhawks finish the weekend tournament today against host and No. 13-ranked Grand Canyon at 2:30 p.m.