ALAMOSA, Colo.— After going nearly 13 points without losing at home, the Adams State College men’s basketball team tasted the bitter taste of defeat for the second time in 72 hours, falling 77-73 to rival Fort Lewis College in the quarterfinal round of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference shootout, Tuesday night in Plachy Hall.
The Grizzlies, who must now anxiously await possible election into the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament, fell to 19-8 overall with the loss, which followed a 79-75 regular season-ending setback to Western State on Saturday night. The Grizzlies held the eighth and final at-large selection spot in last week’s regional rankings but have now lost 3 of their last 4.
New rankings are due out Wednesday but will not take into account the playoff result. The finals selections will be made Sunday evening via a live webcast at www.ncaa.com.
Meanwhile, Fort Lewis which came into the night seeded sixth, improved to 16-11 as the Skyhawks rallied from as many as 12 down in the second half before sending the game to overtime when Mike Matthews hit a running 25-foot, 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Skyhawks then held the Grizzlies to a 0-for-7 shooting effort in the overtime as they avenged a pair of regular season losses to the Grizzlies.
Fort Lewis now moves onto Pueblo and the RMAC Shootout semifinals and will face seventh-seeded Colorado Mesa, which shocked second-seeded and 12th ranked Metro State in Denver by a 67-63 score. That game also went to overtime.
The other half of the bracket went much truer to form as top-seeded and No. 2 national squad Colorado Mines and No. 4 seed Nebraska-Kearney each posted comfortable home wins over Western State and Chadron State, respectively.
In Plachy Hall, the Grizzlies led by 10 at the break (36-26) and built a 40-28 lead early in the second half before an 8-0 Skyhawk run pulled the visitors to within four.
However, the Grizzlies did not give up the lead went back up by double-figures (49-38) on a Jack Osborn (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia) bucket.
Still leading by 10 (60-50) at the 6-minute mark, the Grizzlies then went cold committed back-to-back to turnovers before missing a shot as the Skyhawks scored six straight to pull within 60-54.
The Skyhawks continued to push and tied the game at 62 on two Matt Morris free throws, part of his 17-point effort, that was cut short by three overtime fouls.
Tied with 2:38 left, Kaimyn Pruitt (Los Angeles, Calif.) slammed the Grizzlies back into the lead before Morris answered right back with another bucket.
Grizzly senior Deray Wilson (Anchorage, Alaska) then put the Grizzlies up 67-64 with a clutch 3-pointer from the right corner although the Grizzlies could not put the game away as Marqus Richards (Los Angeles, Calif.) missed the front end of a one-and-one with 33.7 seconds left.
The Skyhawks played for one shot and missed. Grizzly senior point guard Jamiko Verner (Denver, Colo.), named as the RMAC Defensive Player of the Year earlier in the day grabbed the rebound in the deep corner and was fouled with 3.8 seconds left.
He also missed the front end of the ensuing bonus situation as the Skyhawks’ Matthew Mazarei raced down the floor before finding Matthews for the game-tying shot from the right flank.
Held to a 36.7 percent (11-30) shooting effort in the second half after shooting 55.6 percent (15-27) in the first, the Grizzlies then managed just six free throws in the extra frame although they did lead 70-68 in the first minute before two Matt Billups free throws and a Marcus Ayala jumper put the Skyhawks up 72-70 with 2:01 left.
The Grizzlies did hang around and pulled to within 73-72 on two Wilson free throws with 1:04 left and were within two (75-73) after Richards hit the first of two free throw attempts.
The Grizzlies did grab the ensuing rebound and received a stoppage with just under 10 seconds to go when referee Keith Woodfork mistakenly thought the Grizzlies called timeout.
ASC then inbounded the ball to Wilson in the backcourt before his 3-pointer from the top of the key rimmed out before Ayala hit two free throws after being fouled on the ensuing rebound with 0.3 seconds left to put the game away.
Richards had a game-high 19 points to lead the Grizzlies. He was 8-for-12 from the field and also finished with six rebounds, five of which were offensive. He also had a game-high five steals, one more than Verner who now has an even 100 on the season.
Pruitt had 16 points and 14 rebounds to record third double-double of the campaign while Osborn tallied 12 points and seven rebounds.
Billups scored 18 for the Skyhawks while Morris had 17 points and 10 boards before checking out.
The Grizzlies did finish with a 38-32 edge in rebounds and tallied 17 steals while forcing 27 turnovers. However, they were guilty of 24 turnovers of their won and shot just 40.6 percent (26-64) from the field and 65.4 percent (17-26) from the free throw line.
Meanwhile, the Skyhawks finished with a 49.0 percent (25-51) floor shooting effort and were 82.1 percent (23-28) from the line as Morris went 7-for-8 by himself.