Sydney Candelaria had her best game of the season for the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team. It wasn’t close to enough for the Skyhawks to hang with the team in second place in the conference standings.
Candelaria scored a season-high 21 points in a breakout performance after she has battled an injury all season. But the Skyhawks (4-8, 4-8 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) couldn’t keep pace with Colorado School of Mines (12-2, 11-2 RMAC) on Friday night in Durango, as the Orediggers secured a 81-64 road victory for their seventh consecutive win.
“Sydney’s game was huge for us,” FLC head coach Orlando Griego said. “We’ve been working through her injuries, and it was good to see her attacking mentality shooting the ball and taking it to the basket. She was sacrificing her body and playing good defense. That’s something we’ve been missing, so that was a positive to take from tonight.”
FLC trailed 9-2 early in the game but raced back to get within 17-14 after one quarter, as Candelaria finished a left-handed layup before the buzzer after Jordan Vasquez had made 6-of-10 free throws for FLC in the opening 10 minutes alone.
But Mines would outscore FLC 18-8 in the second quarter to take a 35-22 lead into halftime.
Mines then scored 27 in the third quarter and kept running away in the fourth quarter.
Vasquez finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds for FLC. Other than Candelaria and Vasquez, nobody else on FLC scored more than Iva Drobnjak’s seven points.
“We have some injuries to our post players, so we’ve been down,” Griego said. “We were limited, and it’s one thing Mines did a good job of was attacking our posts in the paint inside. They’re a good basketball team that will do that to you.”
The Orediggers had incredible balance, however. The 81 points were the most this season in any game for the Orediggers and provided a strong start to a weekend in which Mines also will face No. 7 Western Colorado University (11-1, 10-1 RMAC) on Saturday night in Gunnison.
Denali Pinto led Mines with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Megan Van de Graaf scored another 17 points. Ashley Steffeck had 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, while Sammy Van Sickle had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Mines shot 51.5% for the game and 9-of-22 from 3-point range. FLC was held to 37.7% shooting and 5-of-17 from long range.
“They share the ball really well and make extra passes, plus they’re all really tall,” Griego said. “They could see over our shorter players, and that’s hard from a defender standpoint.”
FLC has now lost four consecutive games after a three-game winning streak had the Skyhawks in RMAC tournament contention. The Skyhawks were slated to play Regis at 4 p.m. Saturday. Late Friday night, that game was canceled, and the RMAC determined it would be ruled a no contest.
Regis cited concerns for driving to Durango after a 71-65 loss at No. 7 Western Colorado on Friday night. Meanwhile, Mines men and women will make that same drive to play at Western Colorado on Saturday.
FLC aims to play a makeup game at Adams State in Alamosa on Monday, as it has continued to honor its previously postponed road games all season while FLC has not seen its share of postponed home games rescheduled. The weather is forecasted to be worse Sunday and Monday when FLC will travel.