The Fort Lewis Men’s basketball team beat Western Oregon handily on Friday in Salt Lake City, 89-63. On Saturday, however, the Skyhawks and Central Washington traded the lead over and over again at the neutral location. JacQuess Hobbs made a short shot for FLC with 21 seconds left in the game to tie the contest at 87-87. Central Washington, however, was able to score on a hard drive to the hoop with 3.9 seconds left and, after FLC’s last-ditch half-court shot missed, beat Fort Lewis 89-87.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for FLC in which the Skyhawks held their opponents to 64 points or less. FLC concludes its nonconference season 4-2 overall and will begin RMAC play Friday at Chadron State College (4-4) in Nebraska.
Central Washington, which had a trio of games in British Columbia, Canada, get canceled, improved to 3-1. Western Oregon, which plays in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with CWU, slipped to 1-6.
Against Western Oregon, FLC jumped out to an early 14-point lead and took a 52-33 into halftime after shooting 59% from the field in the half.
Seniors senior Riley Farris and Brenden Boatwright combined for 27 first-half points. Farris led all scorers with a game-high 21 on 9-of-13 shooting. Boatwright added 14 points and four rebounds in just 16 minutes.
Senior guard Will Wittman scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including an early alley-oop slam off an assist by junior Dunnell Stafford.
On defense, Corey Seng shut down Westen Oregon’s leading scorer, Cameron Cranston. Cranston entered Friday averaging 20.6 points per game but was limited to just five points on 2-of-4 shooting and four turnovers in 38 minutes.
Seng added nine points on the offensive end, while senior guard JacQuess Hobbs and sophomore guard Akuel Kot each added nine points apiece, as well, to help pace the FLC offense.
Against Central Washington, FLC Hobbs sunk a jumper to break an 8-8 tie and then Riley Farris hit a 3-pointer to give Fort Lewis an early 13-8 lead. After Central Washington got within one of FLC, Kot drained a 3-pointer. The Wildcats tied the game at 16, but Junior Garbrah hit a 3-pointer to put FLC back on top.
Later in the half, Marqus Gilson, who led all players with 22 points, knocked down a 3-pointer to give CWU its second lead, 29-26.
Hobbs scored three the old fashioned way to tie the game back up at 29-29, but the lead would change six more times in the half. Kot, Ferris sand Stafford all made buckets to put FLC in front, but CWU made the last two baskets of the half to take a 41-38 lead into the break.
In the second half, a Stafford basket cut CWU’s lead to 45-44, but the Wildcats responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to take their largest lead of the game, 51-44.
Farris got hot later in the half and score nine points in a roughly two-minute span, helping FLC take leads of 61-60, 65-63 and 67-65. Garbrah sunk a 3-pointer and then Hobbs made a shot to put FLC up, 74-70 with just under eight minutes left.
The game was tied four more times after that, with Boatwright, Kot and Seng making shots to put the Skyhwaks back in front.
In the final minute, CWU hit a 3-pointer for an 87-85 lead, but Hobbs then used a strong move to get to the hoop and lay a shot up and in to tie the game late.
CWU’s David Thompson, however, was able to score just before the final buzzer to seal the win.
“We didn't switch the ball-screen like we needed to and (Thompson) got our hip. He made a tough shot to win it, but it was a little bit of a defensive breakdown,” FLC head men’s basketball coach, Bob Pietrack, told FLC Athletics. “We didn't execute that last play perfectly, but give credit to the kid because he made a tough layup. I'm proud of our guys and thought we played really hard, just came up a little short.”
Hobbs finished with 19 points, three steals, four rebounds and two assists.
Farris also scored 19 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Boatwright added 17 points for FLC.
Fort Lewis a solid 48.4% (31-of-64) from the field against CWU, just a shade under the team’s season average of 50%. The Wildcats finished the night a sizzling 56% from the floor (37-of-66) with 58 points in the paint.
“Defensively, we didn't play well enough to win,” Pietrack said. “They shot 55%, and I thought that was the difference in the game. If we had held them in the upper-40s, I think the game would have been different. But besides that, it was two really good teams playing, and they just made one more play than we did.”