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Short-handed Skyhawks fall to Grizzles 76-56

Adams State snapped Fort Lewis’ four-game winning streak
Luisa Chavez of Fort Lewis College drives to the basket on Tuesday while playing Adams State University at FLC. Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

Twenty-seven turnovers doomed Fort Lewis’ chances Tuesday night in Whalen Gymnasium as Adams State dominated Fort Lewis in the second half to win 76-56.

The Skyhawks fell to 4-4 overall and 1-1 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference after the loss after shooting 33% from the field and 27% from 3-point range. Adams State improved to 7-3 overall and 2-0 in the RMAC after shooting 44% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc.

“That’s an NCAA Tournament team, they're really good and they came in and they showed why they're one of the top teams in the RMAC,” Fort Lewis head coach Taylor Harris said. “I'm really proud of how I thought we were together. We competed and we're short-handed, we're missing our post players but it's not an excuse.”

Senior forward and leading scorer Kelsey Sorenson missed her fifth-straight game as she continues to recover from a knee injury. Harris said there’s a possibility she could be back this weekend. Junior Sydney Bevington, who led the team in rebounds, is out with an ankle injury that she’s getting an MRI on. Redshirt junior Lilly Pepper was also out with an illness.

“The moral of the story is we turned it over 27 times,” Harris said. “You're not going to win games when you when you do that. So we just got to clean that up for Friday.”

Sophomore guard Lanae Billy led the Skyhawks with 22 points on 6-15 shooting overall, including 4-12 from 3-point range and 6-8 from the free-throw line. Billy also had seven turnovers and five steals. Harris was very happy with how Billy got to the free-throw line and how she was aggressive on both the offensive and defensive end. Billy was the only Skyhawks player in double-figures.

Adams State guard Harmanie Dominguez led the Grizzles with 23 points on 8-18 shooting overall and 6-14 shooting from beyond the arc. Elaina Watson had 15 points on 5-8 shooting from the field and 2-3 shooting from the 3-point arc. Riahana Davis and Christabel Longe each had 13 points as well.

The Skyhawks struggled with turnovers from the beginning and Adams State was able to build a 15-12 lead after the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, the game was tied again at 16 after a fadeaway jump shot from junior guard Sadie Misner. The junior starter brought great energy on the offensive and defensive end early in the game and was a big reason why the Skyhawks were only down 25-21 with 4:38 left in the second quarter despite turnovers and poor shooting. Misner and Billy led the Skyhawks with six points at this point. Misner failed to score the rest of the game.

“That's probably where I need to look at something that maybe I can get the ball in her hands, just so she's feeling a little bit more comfortable when that third quarter starts, just to kind of help her and give her that confidence right when we come out of half,” Harris said. “We do a good job of that in the first quarter.”

After the under-four timeout, Adams State went on a 10-2 run as the Grizzles were cutting through the Skyhawks’ 2-3 defense like a mouse through cheese. Led by Watson, Adams State got good shots and got to the free-throw line before Dominguez hit a half-court prayer to make the score 40-29 Adams State at half.

Things only got worse for Fort Lewis to start the third quarter. The Skyhawks were sloppy with the ball and looked like a chicken with their heads cut off trying to break the Grizzles press. Fort Lewis turned it over seven times in the first five minutes of the third and Adams State never looked back. Dominguez hit her looks and Adams State stretched the lead to 57-33 with 3:34 to go in the third.

“They did a really good job of getting the ball into the middle of the zone,” Harris said. We kind of knew that they were going to do that. For some reason, we were just a touch too slow on those rotations to the middle of the zone.”

Adams State led 62-43 after three-quarters. Despite the aggressive play of Billy, the Skyhawks offense was broken for the night and Dominguez continued to get open looks as the Grizzles cruised to victory in the fourth.

Fort Lewis plays on Friday at home against New Mexico Highlands at 5 p.m.