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Fort Lewis tops Northern New Mexico in Nike N7 game

Coach Harris earns first Skyhawks win
Claudia Vidal puts up a shot on Sunday during Fort Lewis’ game against Northern New Mexico College. (Photo Courtesy David Curry)

The Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team earned its first win of the season, topping Northern New Mexico College 61-44 on Sunday. Head coach Taylor Harris picked up the first win of his Skyhawk career in an overall team victory that saw 11 players contribute points.

“We have been waiting for this game and the opportunity to play at home for so long,” Harris said. "How cool is it that, after a year of fanless games due to COVID, that we were able to have this moment? The crowd fueled us, starting with the pregame ceremonies, it meant a lot to have that energy for the girls – that was everything to them.“

The game was recognized as the school’s Nike N7 game, honoring Native American and Aboriginal communities and organizations in celebration of Native American Heritage Month. The FLC women’s basketball team features four players with Native American backgrounds, including Destiny Kessay (White Mountain Apache), Ember Cervantes (Mescalero Apache), Charlize Valdez (Southern Ute) and Tayla Nez (Navajo).

The Ute Mountain Dancers perform at Fort Lewis College on Sunday during the basketball teams’ Nike N7 games, honoring Native American and Aboriginal communities. (Photo Courtesy David Curry)

“We talked about what this N7 game would mean to our team a lot leading up to tipoff. This game is about more than basketball; it is about celebrating Destiny, Ember, Charlize and Tayla. Today was truly the ultimate selfless game where we celebrated those four and what they mean to our team,” said Harris.

Fort Lewis shot 44.2% (23-of-52) from the field, just shy of a season high, and drained seven shots from beyond the arc. The Skyhawks held the Eagles to just 12.5% (2-of-16) from three and benefited from 18 Northern New Mexico turnovers. Fort Lewis was also superior in rebounds, coming away with 33, to 27 for the Eagle.

Redshirt freshman Jana Conejero led the team with a season-high 16 points, connecting on four threes. Redshirt senior Sydney Candelaria followed with 15 points to go along with four steals and a team-high five rebounds. Redshirt freshman Claudia Vidal and redshirt junior Alyssa Adams each put up six points in the team effort.

The Skyhawks led 19-10 after the first quarter, 32-15 at halftime and 44-29 after three quarters. They then outscored Northern New Mexico 17-15 in the fourth to win 61-44.

Fort Lewis (1-3) is back on the road next week for a Friday/Saturday slate in Canyon, Texas. First, the Skyhawks will take on West Texas A&M University 1:30 p.m. Friday. The team will then take on Southwestern Oklahoma State University at 11 a.m. Saturday.