by Michael Rowse
It was a close match up for the Western New Mexico University Lady Mustangs as they took on the Fort Lewis College Lady Skyhawks Friday night. The Lady Mustangs fell just short with a loss of 74-62 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference action.
Fort Lewis College's (FLC) Christie Groh scored first for the not even a minute into the game. Senior Jelesia Gray (Sierra Vista, AZ/Buena High School) responded right after with a layup squaring it up at two. FLC (11-8, 10-5 RMAC) held the lead for the first seven minutes of the game, until junior Veronica Celaya (Chandler, AZ/Williams Field) shot a three-pointer which was assisted by sophomore Desiree Young (North Ogden, UT/Weber High School) to bring the Lady Mustangs (3-17, 2-14 RMAC) to their first lead in the game, 13-11.
It was close for a while after that, until WNMU had a short five-point streak. Young sunk a three-pointer and senior Heather Hamilton (Ely, NV/White Pine High School) got fouled, but made both of her free throws to boost the WNMU lead to four, 23-19, at the 8:39 mark.
WNMU and Fort Lewis stayed within three points or less of each other throughout the first half, to bring it to a tie 34-34 to end the first half.
Going into the second half, FLC's Katerina Garcia made a jumper to open the scoring. WNMU's Gray responded right back with back-to-back jumpers. WNMU struggled after that, with FLC having a seven-point run until Hamilton made one of her two free throws leaving it, 46-39.
The Lady Mustangs could not get a run going after that. Trailing by at least six points or more throughout the second half, the Lady Mustangs would end up falling by 12. Gray had a big game, going for a double-double on 13 points and 14 rebounds which led the team in both categories. Morgan Wohltman (Queen Creek, AZ/Highland High School) and Young added 12 points each.
FLC's Ashley Kuchar led all scorers going for 18. FLC made 43.9 percent (25-57) of their shots, while WNMU hit at a 34.4 clip (21-61). WNMU held a 9-6 advantage in three-pointers, while FLC held an 18-11 edge in free throws.
WNMU will play at home again Saturday night as they will take on the Adams State University Grizzlies at 5:30pm. Adams State escaped New Mexico Highlands with a two-point win Friday evening.