CSU-Pueblo has been one of the only teams in the conference to make a habit out of beating Fort Lewis, currently ranked fifth in the country, the past three seasons. Saturday, facing one of the highest-ranked teams a Pack team had ever faced in program history, CSU-Pueblo nearly added another "W" to their Fort Lewis docket.
The ThunderWolves were tied with Fort Lewis as late as 2:45 left in the game in an neck-and-neck affair, eventually edged out by the 17-1 Skyhawks by a 71-66 score.
The ThunderWolves, who had suffered from shooting woes as of late, found the stroke they'd been lacking the past several weeks. Led by Mary Rehfeld (Sr., Juneau, Alaska), who had been held to less than five points in four of the past six games, caught fire, whipping out a season-high 25-point on 10-for-18 shooting, and going 5-for-9 from beyond the arc.
Rehfeld sank three three-pointers in the first half, allowing the ThunderWolves to take a lead of as large as six midway through the first frame.
Despite a stellar performance all-around in the first half, Fort Lewis seized on the smallest errors to remain in control at halftime, holding a 36-28 advantage of the break, due largely to seven steals and a halftime rebounding advantage of 22-16.
But the Pack kept things close by not letting up in the second half. Trailing by nine four minutes into the second half, the Pack seized on Fort Lewis bricks to go on a 12-1 run, taking a 44-42 lead with 12:30 remaining in the game, thanks to additional threes by Rehfeld and two treys by Kristi Arness (Jr., Chico, Calif.).
From there it was a chess match, as neither team could build a lead larger than four. But eventually, the ThunderWolves' success from behind the arc, going 10-for-23 during the game, dried up, as the Skyhawks scored big rebounds, allowing them to keep the Pack at arm's length. The Pack was 0-for-4 from the field inside of the final two minutes, and 3-for-6 from the free throw line.
The ThunderWolves fall to 12-7 with the loss, and 6-5 in conference play. Fort Lewis remains a perfect 11-0 in RMAC play.
The Pack will embark on another four-game road trip, first with a Tuesday matchup at New Mexico Highlands before taking on Western New Mexico on Saturday, Feb. 7.