The Eagles knocked the Skyhawks off balance Saturday.
But the Fort Lewis College men’s basketball team shifted just enough back onto its toes to pull away in the second half and beat Northern New Mexico 82-70 to wrap up the Colorado Mesa Thanksgiving Classic in Grand Junction.
“We came out a little bit sluggish, but I think you should give credit to Northern New Meixco. They came out inspired and ready to play,” FLC head coach Bob Hofman said.
“They really put us on our heels.”
The Eagles held a small lead over Fort Lewis for most of the first half and got up by as many as 9 before the Skyhawks cut the lead to 1 to end first-half play.
To start, Northern New Mexico was hitting more than 60 percent of its 3-pointers while keeping the Skyhawks from getting good looks of their own.
The Eagles (3-10) finished with 44 percent shooting from the floor and beyond the arc, while Fort Lewis hit just 4 of 26 from 3-point range to go with a 39 percent overall field goal percentage.
“They did a really nice job of ball pressure,” Hofman said.
“They didn’t let us get into a rhythm.
“They made shots more than anything ... When you make shots, it really inspires your defense as opposed to the other way around.”
But in the second half the Skyhawks made “just enough” free throws and shots and had “just enough” rebounds to turn the tide, aided by Alex Herrera who had 15 points and a game-high seven rebounds to contribute to FLC’s 44-38 advantage off the glass.
FLC took its first 11–point lead at 68-57 with 6:47 to go and didn’t let it go.
“I thought Alex Herrera really did a nice job on the boards and did a good job throughout,” Hofman said.
Nick Tomsick led FLC (3-0) with 19 points, and Torrey Udall had 11. Matt Mazarei fed them from the point with zero turnovers and four assists.
Rodney Coles and Orlando Echave led the Eagles with 12 points apiece, while Daniel Molina added 11.
The Skyhawks open conference play at UC-Colorado Springs at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.