The Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team was looking for a more successful inside-out offensive game heading into Saturday’s matchup against Northern New Mexico College. The Skyhawks did exactly that, as they were lethal from beyond the 3-point arc and established a strong post presence in the second half to easily pull away from the Eagles for a 93-59 win.
Fort Lewis College head coach Orlando Griego said that establishing a strong high post was a key point of emphasis, and it allowed outside shots to open up.
“We put different people at the high post, and one person in particular who had a great game for us was Bailey (Osmer),” Griego said. “She did a really good job of either finding people attacking the basket, keeping the defense honest, and credit to the girls. When they’d collapse on Jordan Carter or Jordan Vasquez, the other girls were spotting up, and everyone has a piece of the puzzle. It’s always going to take a team effort to win.”
Fort Lewis (3-1) was led by Jordan Carter who recorded 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and Kaitlyn Romero was perfect on the day with her shot selection, as she finished 4-of-4, with all four shots coming from beyond the 3-point line for 12 points. Bailey Osmer had a season-high nine points and led the team with nine rebounds in 23 minutes of action. Every Skyhawk registered a point in the win.
The Skyhawks got off to a slow start on offense, as they shot 6-of-19 from the floor in the first quarter, but Romero and Sydney Candelaria got Fort Lewis rolling with three 3-pointers. Fort Lewis recovered well after it had a stint of just one made shot on seven trips, but Romero’s second 3-pointer of the afternoon with 1:06 to go in the opening quarter helped the Skyhawks retake a two-possession lead at 16-10. FLC added one more basket after Chloe Warrington made a pair of free throws, and the Skyhawks led 18-10 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second period, Fort Lewis started to heat up on offense, and held its own on defense. The Skyhawks were 12-of-19 from the floor, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range. On three consecutive possessions, the Skyhawks corralled the defensive rebound, ran the floor and set up the offense. Romero, Hanna Valencia and Alyssa Adams all were on the receiving end of good ball movement, and drained 3-pointers. Osmer was also effective in the second frame, as she recovered from an 0-of-2 start in the first quarter. In the second, she scored all nine of her points on 4-of-7 shooting, and dished out two assists to help FLC extend the lead. The Skyhawks outscored the Eagles 31-13 in the period to take a commanding 49-23 halftime lead.
Romero and Osmer led the Skyhawks with nine points apiece, and FLC had a dominant performance from its bench, as they outscored the Eagles 22-2.
Romero said the Skyhawks did a good job of looking for the extra pass, and were patient when it came to their offensive execution.
“I think after hitting my first three, I was a lot more confident,” Romero said. “I think our team did a really good job of finding the extra man today, so credit to my teammates. We had a hard week of practice, and we got up a lot of shots, and that really helped our confidence.”
Fort Lewis also got off to a hot start in the second half, as Herrera-Flores drilled her third 3-pointer of the afternoon in the first possession of the half. FLC leaned on a strong post game, which featured plenty of backdoor cuts that led to easy layups. Of FLC’s 26 third-quarter points, 14 came from inside the paint, and nine more came off of turnovers. Fort Lewis outscored the Eagles 26-19, and led 75-42 after three quarters.
In the final frame, Fort Lewis was able to get the remainder of its bench involved, as the Skyhawks continued to push the pace in transition, which led to more easy baskets. FLC outscored the Eagles 18-17 in the last quarter to preserve the win.
The Eagles (1-12) were led by Ahmaya Smith, who had 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Their only other double-digit scorer was Chris’Alee Patterson, who finished with 13 points, and was 6-of-6 form the free-throw line. The Eagles committed 23 turnovers and had just seven assists. The Skyhawks turned the ball over 18 times, but made up for it with 30 assists.
The Skyhawks were also aggressive on the offensive glass, as they outrebounded the Eagles 48-35, and had a 17-13 advantage on offensive rebounding.
“It’s really important that we get those rebounds,” Carter said. “It jump-starts our tempo and makes us all play harder. We were able to get the ball up the floor a lot faster, and then having the offensive rebounds is also crucial too, because we had some put backs. We need to work more on our rebounding, but when you get 17 offensive rebounds even when we weren’t at our best, I think we can only get better from here on out.”
Northern New Mexico head coach Mario Caetano thought his team hung in well with FLC for the first half, but did not match the energy in the second half to get back into the game.
“For one thing, they outrebounded us, and the 23 turnovers isn’t good enough,” Caetano said. “Fort Lewis did a great job of executing their offense, and forcing us to turn the ball over. We can’t win that game when we only make three 3-pointers. I thought Ahmaya played really well for us tonight. Most of my guards played 40 minutes tonight, and that’s because of various injuries and illnesses. We’re hoping to get a win before the Christmas break and get back on track.”
The Skyhawks will be back in action on Tuesday when they host the University of the Southwest (1-6), another NAIA program. Tipoff is at 5:30 p.m. inside Whalen Gymnasium.