DURANGO, Colo. (GoThunderWolves.com - Feb. 15, 2013) - CSU-Pueblo missed out on an opportunity to knock off a ranked opponent Friday, losing a lead in the final 10 minutes of the game to fall 80-72 to Fort Lewis.
The ThunderWolves hung with the 22nd-ranked Skyhawks, taking the lead for the first time six minutes into the game during a 13-3 run that put the Pack ahead 19-14. The Pack would hold the lead for the next nine minutes before an 11-0 Fort Lewis run handed the game back to the Skyhawks. However, as Fort Lewis led 33-26 with 3:33 left, the ThunderWolves responded with a 9-3 run to cut the lead to 36-35 going into halftime.
The Pack began the second half hot, thanks in large part to Matt Rosenbaum (Jr., Sidney, Neb.), who hit three straight three-pointers to open the second half as the Pack went on a 12-3 run to take a 47-39 lead four minutes into the second half.
The ThunderWolves opened up its lead to as much as nine points before Fort Lewis began chipping away. The CSU-Pueblo three-point ball, which fell 15 times Friday for the second straight game, was the Pack's primary mode of scoring as CSU-Pueblo sank a remarkable eight straight threes to start the second half. But the moment the three-ball missed for the first time in the second half, the opportunitistic Skyhawks pounced.
The three-point miss by Ryan Arel (Sr., Shawnee, Kan.) with 6:20 left in the game - the first three-point miss of the half by the Pack - opened the door for a 64-64 deadlock to be broken.
Fort Lewis' 6-foot-10 post Alex Herrera promptly sank three shots in the paint, including a dunk following Arel's miss, to take its first lead since halftime. CSU-Pueblo would hit two more threes, coming from Arden Dennis (Sr., Denver, Colo.) and Jed Knafelc (Jr., Highlands Ranch, Colo.) to get the lead back, 67-66.
But Herrera continued to take over, scoring the Skyhawks' next five points. Defensively, Fort Lewis took away the Pack's three-point game, only allowing two three-point attempts (both misses) in the four minutes after Knafelc's make at 4:29, and before long, the Skyhawks had built an insurmountable 77-67 lead with 30 seconds left.
Rosenbaum was lights out with a career-high 26 points while Wendell Lee (Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.) came through with his third double-double of the season with a 10-point, 13-rebound effort. And remarkably, for the second time in three games, Nate Tigner (Jr., Fort Worth, Texas) broke the 10-assist barrier with 10 dishes Friday.
The loss drops the Pack to 10-13 overall and 9-8 in conference play, which still leaves the Pack in fifth place in the RMAC standings. Saturday, CSU-Pueblo faces Adams State in a crucial game, as a loss has the potential to drop all the way to eighth place and on the verge of dropping out of the RMAC playoff race.