Defense is the focus for the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team in 2021.
The Skyhawks (1-3, 1-3 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) have scored the fourth most points per game of any team in the conference so far this season at 68.6 points per game. But FLC has allowed opponents to score 74 points per contest, which ranks second worst.
“Our focus moving forward is our defense. We have to make sure our defense is firing our offense,” FLC second-year head coach Orlando Griego said. “Our girls understand that we need to get stops, and they’ve come back with a whole new focus. I am excited to see them play defense this weekend.”
After a 75-63 loss at Colorado School of Mines on Dec. 19, FLC had a week off before returning to campus Dec. 26 to prepare for a game at 2 p.m. Sunday against South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (1-4, 1-4 RMAC). Fans will not be permitted inside of Whalen Gymnasium for the game because of public health protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The game was originally scheduled as the season opener but was postponed because of coronavirus issues. Griego said his team returned from break healthy and ready to continue the season with Sunday’s game, which will only be the team’s second at home so far this season.
“There’s nothing better than getting to come to your own gym where you work so hard every day,” Griego said. “The team is looking forward to being here and competing and are grateful to have a couple home games in a row coming up.
“We need to make sure it is safe for both teams to play, but if it is safe, we look forward to playing.”
FLC has been led by standout sophomore forward Jordan Vasquez of Farmington. She is second in the conference in scoring at 22.4 points per game, one behind Racquel Wientjes of Black Hills State.
Vasquez is also third in the RMAC in rebounding with 8.4 per game as well as third in the conference in shooting percentage at 56.9%.
“She’s fun to coach and works extremely hard. She always wants to get additional work so she can compete at the highest level,” Griego said. “She doesn’t settle. As only a sophomore, she’s still growing. The beautiful thing about basketball is you can always find something to improve on, and she’s doing that on a weekly basis. I am so happy to have her here.”
FLC senior guard Bailey Osmer has started half of FLC’s games this year and has averaged 10.3 points to go with two assists and two steals per game. Four other players – Alyssa Adams, Alison Chanhthala, Chloe Warrington and Katrina Chandler, have averaged more than seven points per game.
The Skyhawks had missed senior guard Sydney Candelaria the previous two games before break because of injury.
“As a team, we’re shooting 41% from the field and over 34% from the 3-point line,” Griego said. “We’ve found additional help in places, and it’s important for us to continue to share the ball and limit turnovers.”
FLC will be tasked with slowing redshirt junior guard Ryan Weiss. The Hardrockers’ star does it all with 18 points per game to go with averages of 7.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game. She has made more than four 3-pointers per game so far this season.
“She’s good and can shoot the ball, penetrate and keep the ball alive,” Griego said. “They have a good team, and we don’t look at the record of our opponent by any means. We have to make sure we’re getting better and focus on ourselves, but we can’t lose sight of our opponent. They’re going to come in here and play hard.”