Unbeaten Mavericks surge past Fort Lewis women

Colorado Mesa protects No. 19 national ranking

Erika Richards and Fort Lewis had trouble finding room to move in the second half, falling to Colorado Mesa 77-62 on Sunday at Whalen Gymnasium. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Erika Richards and Fort Lewis had trouble finding room to move in the second half, falling to Colorado Mesa 77-62 on Sunday at Whalen Gymnasium.

The first half went almost exactly as planned for Fort Lewis College.

The second?

All Colorado Mesa.

The Skyhawks women’s basketball team led by two at intermission, but the No. 19 Mavericks used 9-0 and 10-0 second-half runs to pull away and stay undefeated with a 77-62 win Sunday at Whalen Gymnasium.

Colorado Mesa, formerly Mesa State College, responded to a see-saw first half the way unbeaten teams tend to.

Christen Lopez and Kelsey Sigl powered a 9-0 run out of the locker room that built a Colorado Mesa lead of 43-36 after the Mavericks trailed 36-34 at intermission.

Just minutes later, the Mavericks (9-0, 5-0 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) used a 10-0 run to lead 56-42, and behind the three-headed offensive monster of Sigl, Lopez and Katrina Selsor, built a lead as big as 20 points before coasting to an easy victory that seemed improbable at halftime, given how well the Skyhawks played in the first 20 minutes.

“We were (sluggish), and that’s the big disappointment,” Fort Lewis head coach Jason Flores said.

“I wish it was more about them doing stuff that we didn’t know. It had nothing to do with Xs and Os. We had a focus in the first half and a togetherness.

“We lost our mind. We threw everything out the window.”

The Skyhawks were hampered in the second half by the nation’s fourth-best scoring defense, which took away penetration lanes and post scoring that Fort Lewis used to build a lead as big as seven in the first half.

Christie Groh, who led Fort Lewis with 15 points, scored her only points after halftime on a jumper with less than 2 minutes to go.

“I think that they were just more ready to play than we were. We were comfortable where we were at, and we didn’t come out to fight,” guard Ashley Kuchar said.

Sigl had her inside-outside game working well, scoring her 1,000th point in a Maverick uniform as part of her 24-point night.

Selsor had 18 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double, while Lopez chipped in 16 points.

“In the second half, it seemed like they hit a couple of big shots, and we got frustrated and tried to do it on our own,” Kuchar said.

Alex Easterbrook had 11 points and six assists to go with Groh’s 15 points for the Skyhawks.

The loss dropped the Fort Lewis College women to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the RMAC, making tonight’s 5:30 p.m. game with Western State all the more important as the Skyhawks look to start off a stretch of seemingly winnable games off with a much-needed victory.

After a break for the holidays, Fort Lewis will hit the road to play Chadron State and Black Hills State before returning home to face Western New Mexico and New Mexico Highlands.

“We have to win (today) to stay in the conference hunt at 2-3 in conference. We’ve got to be there,” Flores said.

rowens@durangoherald.com

Alex Easterbrook tried to push through against Christen Lopez of Colorado Mesa, but Fort Lewis fell short in a 77-62 loss. Easterbrook had 11 points in the loss, while Lopez had 16. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Alex Easterbrook tried to push through against Christen Lopez of Colorado Mesa, but Fort Lewis fell short in a 77-62 loss. Easterbrook had 11 points in the loss, while Lopez had 16.

Erika Richards scored six points in Sunday’s Fort Lewis loss to Colorado Mesa. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Erika Richards scored six points in Sunday’s Fort Lewis loss to Colorado Mesa.

Christie Groh and Fort Lewis fought Colorado Mesa to a near standstill in the first half, but the No. 19 Mavericks pulled away in the second to stay unbeaten. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Christie Groh and Fort Lewis fought Colorado Mesa to a near standstill in the first half, but the No. 19 Mavericks pulled away in the second to stay unbeaten.