PUEBLO, Colo. (December 1, 2017) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team trailed by 16 to No. 19 Fort Lewis College early in the second half of its Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opener Friday at Massari Arena, but battled back to within one with under five minutes to play. Unfortunately, the comeback fell short in the 85-69 loss.
The ThunderWolves (3-4, 0-1 RMAC) stayed with the nationally-ranked Skyhawks (4-1, 1-0 RMAC) in the first half and trailed by six at the break. FLC surged to a 16-point lead during the first five minutes of the second half, as they won that time frame 14-4 to lead 57-41 with 14:46 remaining. Trailing 61-46 with 12:16 left, the Pack posted a 21-7 run and trailed by one, 68-67 with 4:33 showing on the game clock. In that run, nine points came from senior Mark Williams (Chino Hills, Calif.), who was playing his first game of the season.
After a dagger from downtown from FLC, two free throws from Williams moved the deficit to two at 71-69 with 3:22 left. The freebies would be the last time the Pack would score, as FLC got buckets and the defensive stops it needed to finish with the 16-point win.
The ThunderWolves shot just 18.2 percent from long range in the second half and all 10 of their turnovers came in the final 20 minutes to aide the visiting Skyhawks. The Pack shot 40.4 percent from the field in the game and were 7-for-27 (25.9%) from long range. CSU-Pueblo held the Skyhawks to 41.9 percent shooting from the field in the second half after allowing the road team to shoot 51.4 percent in the first.
Fort Lewis used its size to outrebound the Pack 43-32, with 14 of those coming on the offensive glass and translating into 18 second chance points. In the first half, the lead changed eight times and the score was knotted on five occasions.
Williams led the Pack in scoring, as he returned to the hardwood to post 20 points in 25 minutes off the bench. He shot 9-for-11 (81.8%) from the field and pulled down two rebounds. Senior Josh Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was the second leading scorer after missing Monday's game and most of practice this week due to illness. He posted 16 points with four 3-pointers and brought down three rebounds with two steals.
Senior Mika Nuolivirta (Vantaa, Uusimaa, Finland) stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, five assists, four rebounds and three blocks. Senior Will Newman (Hawthorne, Calif.) finished with 10 points, a team-high eight rebounds and a team-best six assists.
The ThunderWolves host Adams State University (3-4, 1-0 RMAC) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The game serves as Youth Night, as all youth 14 and under get in for free.
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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.