Fort Lewis College saw a three-game winning streak quickly descend into a three-game losing streak. The Skyhawks will have a big challenge to not see that number grow to four Friday, but head coach Orlando Griego believes his team will be up to the task.
FLC dropped an 85-83 double overtime loss to University of Colorado at Colorado Springs last Saturday in a game in which the Skyhawks missed 19 free throws. Griego saw his team respond in practice this week.
“It’s been a great week, to be honest,” he said. “As the coach, I took responsibility for losing. It showed the character of our team for them saying, ‘You know what coach, we have to be better and we’re ready to work.’ They have come back focused, energized and believe in one another. They have stayed together and are stronger as a unit. I told them today that, regardless of the results of this weekend or what is ahead the rest of the season, I am proud of them for facing adversity, wanting to be better and showing maturity and wanting to prove they can be better.”
FLC (4-7, 4-7 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) will welcome Colorado School of Mines (11-2, 10-2 RMAC) to Whalen Gymnasium in Durango at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The Orediggers are 6-1 on the road and have won six consecutive games.
The two teams met Dec. 19 in Golden, and Mines won at home 75-63 behind 22 points from Denali Pinto, the newly crowned Colorado Sportswomen of Colorado College Basketball Player of the Year.
Pinto has averaged 13.3 points per game this season, while Sammy van Sickle has led Mines with 6.9 rebounds per game.
“They are a good team and score the ball well,” Griego said. “We have to work extremely hard on defense and we have to rebound. We must contain Pinto and do the best we can with her, and our girls are up to the challenge.”
FLC sophomore forward Jordan Vasquez leads FLC with 17.7 points per game, which ranks fourth in the conference, along with 8.2 rebounds per game, the third best in the RMAC.
Vasquez scored 25 points in the loss earlier this year at Mines. Since then, Griego believes his team has found more balance. Bailey Osmer is scoring 8.9 points per game, and Chloe Warrington is up to 8.4 points per game after scoring in double digits in each of her last three games. Katrina Chandler of Durango also has averaged 8.1 points per game.
“We’ve done a better job sharing the ball and getting more players involved,” Griego said. “Other players are taking shots and believing in themselves. Our conditioning is also better, which is good for us. We’re really going to get up and press and try to push the pace. As a collective team, we’re a better basketball team. I’m excited to see our team show that.”