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Skyhawks women’s basketball dominates Lincoln, 85-40

Fort Lewis had a season-high in points and forced turnovers
Sophomore guard Lanae Billy scores a fast break layup against Lincoln University on Monday night at Fort Lewis. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

Despite only shooting 34% from the field and 29% from 3-point range, the Fort Lewis women’s basketball team was tremendous on the defensive end, forcing 34 turnovers in a blowout 85-40 win over Lincoln University Monday at Whalen Gymnasium.

Fort Lewis had 41 points off turnovers as the swarming full-court press and 2-3 zone caused havoc.

The Skyhawks improved to 2-3 with the win, and Lincoln fell to 1-2 after the loss.

“The cliché of total team effort really fits today’s game,” Skyhawks coach Taylor Harris said. “It was really fun, we shot the ball well in the first half. We had a really good flow and good vibes. So much of our success comes from the defensive end and we were really successful defensively and that fueled us on the offensive end.”

Sophomore guard Lanae Billy led the Skyhawks with 18 points on 7 of 18 shooting from the field and 4 of 13 from beyond the arc, along with eight steals. Sophomore forward Kate Gallery had another strong game, finishing with 15 points on 6 of 14 shooting overall including 3 of 9 from downtown. Redshirt junior Lilly Pepper had a double-double in only 12 minutes of action off the bench, tallying 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting and 10 rebounds.

Freshman Natalie Guanella had all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter off the bench. Junior Luisa Chavez also had 10 points off the bench.

Lincoln shot 30% overall and 27% from 3-point range. Jolie Aguirre led the short-handed Oaklanders with 14 points on 5 of 11 shooting overall and 2 of 5 shooting from beyond the arc. Senaida Barrientos scored 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting from the field and 1 of 2 from 3-point range. Lincoln traveled from Oakland, California with just seven players due to numerous injuries.

“We wanted to really take advantage of the altitude here in Whalen,” Harris said. “Them coming from sea level, getting in late, we just really wanted to take advantage and I thought we did. We had a lot of great things in our press and a lot of different athletes showed great things defensively. It was just a really good team defensive effort.”

Fort Lewis is still dealing with some injury issues as well. Senior forward and leading scorer Kelsey Sorenson missed her second straight game after injuring her knee against Northern New Mexico on Nov. 17. Harris said there is no timetable on her return, but she’s had an MRI on her knee and the injury doesn’t seem to be season-ending.

Lincoln started out strong with a 5-0 lead, but the Skyhawks settled in and took an 8-7 lead after 3-pointers from Gallery and Billy.

Junior guard Avery Evans attacked the basket well in the first quarter for the Skyhawks, who ended the first quarter on an 11-0 run.

Lincoln couldn’t put together many good passes and turned it over 14 times in the first quarter. Pepper had an and-one finish, and Billy made a deep 3-pointer in the last 30 seconds to put the Skyhawks up 20-11 after the first.

Fort Lewis shot the ball well in the second quarter with 3-pointers off turnovers from numerous players, including Gallery. The 6-foot-1 sophomore was deadly on pick-and-pop plays with Skyhawks guards.

“Because I can space the floor out more and Lanae comes off the ball screens so well. She draws two people, and Lanae is the big reason why I am getting those shots up,” Gallery said.

The Skyhawks kept forcing turnovers in the second quarter and converted them. Fort Lewis extended its lead to 49-24 at halftime behind 24 first-half turnovers from Lincoln.

Fort Lewis struggled to score in the third quarter with only 13 points. The Skyhawks didn’t force as many Lincoln turnovers and therefore struggled to score during that time.

“This is where we have to grow,” Harris said. “We came out, we had a big lead and we came out just a little flat. That’s on me. I’ve got to get us better ready to go at halftime. We just didn’t have that edge defensively.”

The Skyhawks’ bench players took the floor for most of the fourth quarter, which bolstered the lead with some 3-pointers and drives to the basket.


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