It got a little tighter at the end than the Skyhawks would’ve liked, but the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team is heading home after a much-needed Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference sweep.
The Skyhawks used a 17-4 run to open the second half to build an eventual 20-point lead, then held off Black Hills State 80-71 on Saturday in Spearfish, S.D., to clear the .500 mark in the RMAC for the first time this season.
“I guess it was a learning curve a little bit, but gosh, we had some good stretches in the second half,” Fort Lewis head coach Jason Flores said.
Fort Lewis and Black Hills State played a fairly even first half, with the Skyhawks pulling ahead 38-32 at intermission.
Fort Lewis, however, came out much stronger on the defensive end and had a better flow offensively to open the second half, using the 17-4 run to lead 55-36 before pushing the lead to as much as 20 points.
“We were playing tough defense, kind of causing havoc on that end,” Flores said.
The Yellow Jackets (3-9, 2-6 RMAC) got as close as seven points late, but the Skyhawks hit enough free throws down the stretch to cap a strong weekend after the holiday break, which also included a dominant win Friday over Chadron State.
“We had to hit some free throws at the end. We didn’t shoot (them) great, but we did enough,” Flores said. “Can’t ever be disappointed with a road sweep.”
Every starter for the Skyhawks (5-6, 4-3 RMAC) scored in double figures in Saturday’s victory. Ashley Kuchar had a big game, tallying 24 points, tying a career high she set last season.
“I’m sure she feels good about it,” Flores said with a laugh. “Her timing was coming back. She had a couple tough shooting games, but she’s a great shooter, and that was bound to come back around the bend.”
Katerina Garcia and Erika Richards chipped in 12 points apiece, while Alex Easterbrook and Christie Groh had 11 each for the Skyhawks.
Fort Lewis will return home Friday and Saturday for 5:30 p.m. games against New Mexico Highlands and Western New Mexico, respectively.