Tough Fort Lewis defense hands Mountain Lions first conference loss

By Doug Fitzgerald published January 9, 2009

DURANGO â€" An impressive Fort Lewis Skyhawks defense forced 27 turnovers, 19 in the first half, in handing the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs womenâ€TMs basketball team its first Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference loss of the season, an 83-60 decision Friday evening at Whalen Gymnasium.

Ashley Miller and Jazzmin Awa-Williams each had 10 points to lead the Mountain Lions (5-7, 3-1 RMAC). Payden Ackerman led the team with seven rebounds and four assists.

Alison Rosel led No. 13 Fort Lewis (12-1, 5-0 RMAC) with 15 points and eight rebounds. Erin Kerr had a game-high 10 assists.

While the competitors represented two of the three remaining teams with unblemished Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference records, it was the Skyhawks looked like the unbeaten team in the first half. Their halfcourt trap press was so active and effective it gave the feeling that they had more players on the court rather than the five actually playing.

“They did a great job,” said UCCS coach Jessika Caldwell, who is now 0-5 all time vs. Fort Lewis. “We faced a very good team; theyâ€TMre (nationally ranked) for a reason.

“They made us make mistakes. We played tentative; we didnâ€TMt attack the press.”

Using the press, Fort Lewis forced the Mountain Lions into turnovers on each of their first five possessions, which helped boost the Skyhawks to a 9-0 lead.

And the turnovers just kept on coming. UCCS gave the ball away 19 times in the first half alone. When the Mountain Lions did get a shot off, it was usually contested, resulting in a 5-of-20 shooting performance in the first period, including 0-for-7 from 3-point range.

Not surprisingly given those numbers, Fort Lewis built a 23-6 advantage by the 9:00 mark and ended the half with a 37-20 lead.

“We have to learn the value of the basketball better,” said Caldwell. “We didnâ€TMt show up in the first half.”

While they never seriously threatened, the Mountain Lions did manage to solve the press in the second half and didnâ€TMt allow the game to become a rout.

“Iâ€TMm really proud of our kids; they didnâ€TMt back down,” said Caldwell. “We started to push the ball instead of playing passive. I think we played them fairly even in the second half.

“We have to take this as a learning experience and come back tomorrow against Adams State.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Jazzmin Awa-WilliamsJazzmin Awa-Williams30F
Jazzmin Awa-WilliamsJazzmin Awa-Williams30F
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