BROOMFIELD -- Entering Tuesday night, Courtney Smith was certain her basketball team was set to make a statement in conference play. But exiting the court, the Legacy center had much different sentiments.

The change in the sophomore's outlook stemmed from one of her team's roughest outings in a spell. The Lightning fell 58-47 to Front Range League opponent Fort Collins after a rough start left the team playing catch-up the entire game.

And to Smith there was little secret as to what cost Legacy in its sixth conference outing of the year -- consistency.

"We can't play like we did in the first half and expect to win," said Smith, who led all shooters with 21 points. "We started the game very lackadaisical."

Few will argue with Smith about Legacy (7-6, 3-3) entering the game on its heels. The team allowed Fort Collins (8-5, 4-2) to run up 24 points in the first 8 minutes of play. Then when the Lightning got things together on defense, it went dead on offense.

"It gets frustrating when you work on one thing in one quarter, then something else goes wrong in the next," Smith said. "I don't know what the problem was, but we need to start playing like a team."

The most glaring problems for the Lightning early on were turnovers and rebounds. The Lambkins dominated their hosts in each category. And Fort Collins' proficiency in owning the boards and raking in steals put five of the team's six scorers in double-digits.

"(We had) 15 turnovers in the first half and at least another 10 more in the second," Legacy coach Craig Van Patten said. "You're not going to beat bad teams, let alone a good team like Fort Collins playing like that."

While Van Patten was disappointed with the outcome, he did find some bright points in the game. With Smith going on a nine-point tear in the fourth, the team broke the Lambkins' lead down to seven points at moments in the period.

"They kept fighting and battling and almost dug out of it," the coach said. "But that 15-point deficit (in the first period) makes it pretty hard to come back."

The loss was a blow to the Lightning, given it could have been the start of a legitimate run in conference. Before Tuesday, the team had not fallen since its Jan. 10 trip to Boulder and was hunting for its fourth consecutive win.

A win would have also helped cement the Lightning into third place, a position held by six teams entering Tuesday night. But Smith points out the team started off on the wrong foot way before it took the court against the Lambkins.

The Lightning were sweating whether or not three players would be available for the game, due to injuries and eligibility issues. And while the Lightning had a complete roster, Smith said not knowing who would play created drama leading up to the game.

"Practice has been kind of crazy and I think that showed tonight," Smith said.

Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.

Fort Collins 58, Legacy 47

At Legacy HS

FORT COLLINS (8-5, 4-2)

Thurgood 4 1-2 10, Dietrich 5 0-0 12, Lange 3 4-4 10, Humpaly 5 0-0 12, Casale 1 0-0 2, Evans 4 4-6 12. Totals 22 9-12 58.

LEGACY (7-6, 3-3)

Lopez 1 0-0 2, Neely 2 0-0 4, Ca. Smith 3 0-0 6, Paulsonj 4 4-8 14, Co. Smith 8 3-4 21. Totals 18 7-12 47.

Score by quarters:

Fort Collins 24 12 12 10 -- 47

Legacy 14 7 12 14 -- 47

3-point field goals -- Fort Collins (3): Thurgood, Humpaly 2; Legacy (4): Paulson 2, Co. Smith 2. Total fouls -- Fort Collins 11, Legacy 17. Fouled out -- Ca. Smith, Paulson. Technical fouls -- none.