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Skyhawks start 7-0 for first time in program history

Kot leads FLC to resilient win over Adams in RMAC opener
Junior Garbrah of Fort Lewis College gets under a Northern New Mexico defender earlier this season. Garbrah scored a season-high 18 points Thursday in FLC’s win over Adams State. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

After Fort Lewis College had a cold shooting opening half, Akuel Kot got hot and finished with 34 points to lead the men’s basketball team to a gritty 89-81 win over Adams State University on Thursday in the teams’ Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opener.

Fort Lewis, ranked No. 19 in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches Top 25 Poll, improved to 7-0 overall and 1-0 RMAC with the win: the best record to begin a season in program history. Adams fell to 2-5, 0-1.

“This was a tough game tonight,” head coach Bob Pietrack told FLC Athletics. “We went on the road to our rival's house on the opening night of conference play. Throw records and rankings out the window, Adams has been a difficult opponent for nearly two decades. I’m really most proud of our guys and their ability to hang tough and step up in the second half. We didn’t start off shooting the ball too well, but our defense held us in there and gave us a chance down the stretch.”

Kot shot 11-18 from the floor, 2-4 from three and 10-13 at the free-throw line to lead all players with 34 points. Kot also led FLC with seven total rebounds and pick-pocketed a pair of steals. Kot is now the leading scorer in Division II after scoring double digits for the seventh straight game alongside his now third performance with 30-plus points.

Junior Garbrah added a career-high 18 points, Brenden Boatwright scored 14 points and JaQuaylon Mays added 12.

Kolby Walker led the Grizzlies with 18 points, Maison Adeleye scored 14, and Lamont Sanders and Chris Aibuedefe each added 13 points.

“When you look at the box score, it may be Kot with 34 points, but it’s the combined effort of all our guys like Garbrah, Mays, Boatwright, and many more that really help us finish these tough games.”

Adams downs FLC women 88-55

A dominant second half propelled the Grizzlies past the FLC women’s basketball team on Thursday, 88-55, in their RMAC season-opener at Plachy Hall.

Fort Lewis falls to 3-4, 0-1 while Adams State improves to 5-3, 1-0 RMAC. The Skyhawks shot 29.8% (17-of-57) from the field compared to a 47.8% (33-of-69) for the Grizzlies.

Fort Lewis also turned the ball over a season-high 26 times in the loss.

“We knew that Adams State was going to provide a lot of pressure, and it kind of broke open on us in the second half,” said head coach Taylor Harris. “Preparing is one thing, but actually dealing with the pressure is another.”

Freshman Lanae Billy led FLC with 12 points, followed by a 10-point outing for sophomore Avery Evans. Junior Kelsey Sorenson led the way with seven rebounds. Evans and senior Kaitlyn Bell were not far behind at six and five rebounds.

FLC only trailed 20-19 after the first quarter and 41-34 at halftime. Adams however, won the third and fourth quarters by 12 points each to pull away from the Skyhawks.

“I'm proud of the positive energy of our team,” said Harris. “We stuck together for all 40 minutes, and that’s something I can be happy about.”

Fort Lewis’ women and men will next host Western Colorado University at 5 and 7 p.m. on Saturday