Highlands hung in there a while, playing close with the undefeated, No. 3 nationally ranked Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team for most of the first half Friday evening in Durango, Colo.
Then the Skyhawk women (13-0, 8-0) took flight in doubling their visitors up 66-33.
NMHU (5-11, 2-8) led twice, 2-0 and 4-3, and as late as the 5:58 mark in the first half, the Cowgirls trailed by a mere single-digit margin. China Smith’s fast break layup made it a 20-14 game with 7:27 to go before halftime.
But Fort Lewis got a couple transition scores of its own in a 7-0 spurt to grow the lead to 27-14. And the Skyhawks closed the half on an 8-0 tear to make it 35-16.
The Cowgirl drought continued into the second half. By the time Whitley Coca dished to Smith for a layup to end the dry spell, the second period was nearly three minutes old and the home team had scored 10 uninterrupted points.
FLC held NMHU to 23 percent shooting while hitting at a 49 percent clip. From beyond the arc, the disparity was significant — the Skyhawks made nine of 20 three-pointers while the Cowgirls sank just one in 13 tries.
Smith led the Cowgirls with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Coca had seven points and a game-best four steals.
Dana Schreibvogel (15 points) and Erika Richards (13 points) scored in double digits for FLC; Jenna Santistevan had 10 rebounds.
Saturday night, the Cowgirls lost 82-70 at Adams State in chilly Alamosa, Colo.
Highlands got double-digit scoring efforts from three players — Briana Gholston (18), Alyssa Lopez (16) and Coca (14). Coca also led a strong team defense with four steals and tallied a game-high 10 rebounds.
But five Grizzlies, including West Las Vegas alumnus Vera Jo Bustos, finished in double figures to help their team continue a solid start (10-5, 5-4).
Kendra Coveal scored a game-high 21, with 15 points coming at the charity stripe.
Bustos had a game-high six assists to go with her 11 points and five boards.
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Highlands’ men (10-4, 6-4) fared little better in Durango on Friday night, losing 94-84 to a Skyhawk team that made 34 of 43 foul shots (79 percent).
RMAC Preseason Player of the Year DeAndre Lansdowne was his usual playmaking self, leading FLC with 16 points and seven rebounds. Matt Morris chipped in 15 points and Kyle Behrens and David Kanyinda added a dozen apiece.
Mindaugas Markevicius led all scorers with 18 points on six-for-13 shooting. Momcilo Latinovic had a double-double night (16 points, 10 boards), and Thomas Manzano also scored 16. Chris Newsome had 11 points and four assists.
The Cowboys fell behind by 16 points at one point but had the margin down to 75-69 with 5:59 to go. But Fort Lewis cashed in at the free-throw line down the stretch.
FLC is 10-2, 6-2.
Then, on Saturday, the Cowboys suffered their second straight RMAC defeat in as many nights, falling 96-84 at Adams State.
Deray Wilson scored 21 of his 26 points in the first half for the streaking Grizzlies (10-2, 7-2).
Manzano led Highlands with 21 points and nine rebounds, helping the Cowboys gain a 44-30 advantage on the glass.
Markevicius had 18 and Newsome 10 for NMHU.
The Grizzlies made six threes in the first half; Highlands was two for 10 from long range for the evening.