The Fort Lewis women’s squad was flying around on both ends of the court to start Friday’s game against Northern New Mexico College, but fourth-quarter issues plagued the Skyhawks once again as they fell 67-62.
Fort Lewis scored 26 points in the first quarter and led most of the game, but couldn’t get it done in the end.
“I want to credit Northern New Mexico,” Skyhawks coach Taylor Harris said. “They came out today and played really hard, really inspired and really passionate basketball. Their coaches had them ready to go. They played a Division I opponent close, Division II opponents close and that’s a really good basketball team. We didn’t really match their intensity level, and that’s on me. We’ll do a better job.”
Friday night was the first time Northern New Mexico (1-1) has beaten Fort Lewis (0-3). The Skyhawks were 12-0 in previous matchups.
Ethena Silva led the Eagles with 14 points on 4 of 11 shooting overall, 1 of 2 from 3-point range and 5 of 6 from the free-throw line. Lila Ashida had 13 points on 4 of 8 shooting overall. She went 3 of 6 from beyond the arc and 2 of 4 from the free-throw line.
Northern New Mexico shot 38.6% from the field, but shot a scorching 46.7% from the 3-point line.
“A team like that, they just had confidence,” Harris said. “They were seeing the ball go through the net, and I don’t think we were contesting the shots as well as we could’ve. I don’t think we were taking away the 3s as well as we could’ve.”
Sophomore guard Lanae Billy led Fort Lewis with 21 points on 5 of 16 shooting from the field, 4 of 10 shooting from 3-point range and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. Billy did this despite making just one field goal in the second half.
Senior forward Kelsey Sorenson had 15 points in only 17 minutes due to an injury and foul trouble. Sorenson went up to contest a shot in the third quarter and landed awkwardly and went down grabbing her knee. Sorenson missed a few minutes and returned before fouling out. She finished shooting 6 of 10 from the field and 3 of 7 from the free-throw line.
As a team, the Skyhawks shot 33% from the field and 27% from beyond the arc as well as 66% from the free-throw line.
Turnovers were once again a key point in the game, as Fort Lewis had 22 turnovers but forced 23 with its aggressive 2-3 zone.
The game featured many turnovers and baskets early on. Both teams scored their first basket, followed by a turnover and then another basket. Sorenson was Fort Lewis’ main aggressor finding room in the paint to score.
The Skyhawks led 15-9 with 3:16 to go in the first quarter. Fort Lewis stretched its lead after a Billy 3-pointer from the left side and an and-one basket from junior guard Avery Evans. The Skyhawks led 26-18 after one and Sorenson had 12 first quarter points.
Scoring slowed to a halt to start the second quarter, as Fort Lewis didn’t score until there was 6:34 left in the second quarter.
Northern New Mexico’s Miranda Salazar found success penetrating the top of the 2-3 zone in the second quarter, and the Eagles cut the Skyhawks’ lead to 30-29 before Fort Lewis had a little spurt to get the lead to 36-30. Northern New Mexico fought back as the Skyhawks led 38-34 entering the half.
Fort Lewis started the third quarter by rebounding better and Sorenson scored inside. Back-to-back 3-pointers tied the game at 42 before Sorenson hurt her knee.
The Skyhawks hung around without Sorenson as the third quarter closed and the Eagles led 49-48.
Sorenson fouled out with 6:52 left in the fourth quarter and Northern New Mexico took advantage. Fort Lewis didn’t have any size inside and Northern New Mexico made some key shots in the paint to take the lead.
The Skyhawks’ offense was abysmal in the fourth as no one could make a shot, including Billy, who had a few open looks.
“At the end of the day, Lanae Billy got great looks, three of them, they go in every day but they just didn’t today,” Harris said. “When you’re not defending the best you can, the ball just finds a way to not go in the basket.”
Northern New Mexico stretched the lead to 64-53 with over a minute to go, as Fort Lewis shot 3 of 12 in the fourth quarter. The Skyhawks shot 6 of 26 in the second half.