A well-balanced attack and strong play off the bench led Fort Lewis College to a 30-point victory.
Coming off a disappointing overtime loss at Adams State, the Skyhawks’ men’s basketball team rebounded with a drumming of the Western New Mexico Mustangs (1-18, 1-14 RMAC).
The game was close in the first half, but the Skyhawks (13-6, 10-5 RMAC) outscored the Mustangs by 21 points in the second half to secure a 90-60 home victory inside Whalen Gymnasium.
“It was good to get in there and compete. A win like that, it is just fun as the whole team is into it,” said FLC junior guard Lucas Archuleta, who scored 11 points in 18 minutes off the bench. “Everybody was high-fiving, and the energy was good.”
FLC held the ball with a six-point lead as time ticked away at the end of the first half. The Skyhawks set up for the last shot of the half, and Nick Tomsick buried a 3-point basket to give the team a nine-point halftime lead and momentum. Tomsick, a senior guard, led the Skyhawks with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting Friday night.
“It was nice to have Nick get off the mark a little bit because I think he only had two shots up until that,” FLC assistant coach Bob Pietrack said. “I don’t know how much that played into the game, but it is always nice to score the last basket of any half.”
The Skyhawks came out determined to extend their lead in the second half. Alex Herrera, a 6-9 junior center, took control of the game in the paint, scoring six of his 13 points in the opening minutes of the second half.
“I think our whole team was determined. We didn’t play great in the first half, but a lot of that had to do with what Western N.M. and how hard they were playing,” Pietrack said. “They pushed us out of our stuff a little bit, and Alex was determined to play better.”
FLC head coach Bob Hofman was issued a technical foul in the opening minutes of the second half for arguing a non-foul call on the Skyhawks’ offensive end. The Skyhawks gained even more momentum after the technical, and the rout was on.
Herrera finished the game with four blocked shots and three rebounds, but it was sophomore forward Kody Salcido who led the team with seven rebounds. Salcido also scored nine points in the win.
Archuleta, Cade Kloster and Wes McKenzie all scored 11 points off the bench for FLC. The team shot 53.4 percent from the field and connected on 7-of-21 3-point attempts.
Ten Skyhawks played double-digit minutes Friday night; Pietrack said that’s evidence of how deep the team is.
“It is nice to play hard in the second half and get minutes and play with confidence,” Kloster said.
“We were able to wear them out a little bit, especially in altitude,” Pietrack said. “We played 12 guys pretty good minutes, and our bench got us through. That second-half defense is what we have got to have going forward.”
FLC is back in action against N.M. Highlands (10-10, 7-9 RMAC) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at home.
“We are definitely expecting another tough game,” Archuleta said. “We know they will come in here hungry because we beat them at their place. We just have to come ready to play and ready to compete.”