Lane-led Lopers too much for Moniak-guided Grizzlies
by Chris Day
ALAMOSA, Colo.ó Led by a trio of James Lane 3-pointers in the first three minutes and 19 seconds of the second half, the University of Nebraska-Kearney Lopers went on a 17-4 run building a 43-36 halftime lead into a 17-point cushion en-route to a hard-fought 84-77 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference victory over the host Adams State College Grizzlies on Thursday night in Plachy Hall. The Lopers, picked to win the RMAC, improved to 8-3 overall and to 4-1 in the loop while the host Grizzlies fell to 3-9 (2-3 RMAC).
Trailing by just seven after a well-played and quick-paced first half, the Grizzlies closed to within 43-39 as senior wing Wes Jensen (Molalla, Ore.) hit a 3-pointer to begin the half. Lane, 6-foot-1 senior guard, then responded just 16 seconds later, starting a run in which the Lopers hit eight of their first nine shots of the half to take a 60-43 lead with 14:29 to ten.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies went cold and hit one of their next seven shots after Jensenís bomb.
However, the Grizzlies came roaring back as senior forward Roman Moniak (Sacramento, Calif.) triggered a 7-0 ASC run that brought the deficit to just ten.
The Lopers gradually stretched the lead to as much as 15 before a late Grizzly run came within six points on a Jensen 3-ball followed by a Larry Charles, Jr. (Tucson, Ariz.) free throw.
Moniak finished the night with a game-high 25 points on a strong 10-for-17 shooting effort. He was even more impressive in the first half hitting all six of his field goal attempts, including three from behind the arc, while leading all scorers in to the locker room with 16 points. The Grizzlies also received 14 points from Jensen and another 10 from Marcus Mortensen (Cortez, Colo.).
Charles, Jr., a junior point guard, dished out a career-high nine assists, including six in the first half. He committed just one turnover as the Grizzlies committed just 12 on the night.
The Lopers had five players in double figures including Lane, who pitched in 21 on a 7-for-10 shooting effort. He was also 5 of 6 from beyond the arc. Chad Burger added another 14 points to go along with his five assists.
Using an atypical running game, coach Larry Mortensen and the Grizzlies battled with the highly-touted Lopers for much of the first half. Trailing 13-6 in the early going, the Grizzlies went on a 11-3 run capped by a Charles, Jr. fastbreak layup to take a 17-16 lead.
Then, with 8:17 left and down by just two, the Grizzlies forced Dusty Jura to pick up his third foul on a charge sending the RMACís Preseason Player of the Year to the bench for the rest of half. The Grizzlies initially took advantage as Moniak tied the game with a bucket before the Lopers went on a 13-6 run to build their 7-point cushion.
The Grizzlies dominated the Lopers on the offensive glass racking up a 12-2 advantage in that category. That resulted into a 12-0 edge in second chance points. Picking up a 37-27 win in total rebounds, the Grizzlies were simply not able to overcome 11 Loper 3-pointers and their 56.3 percent (27-48) shooting effort.
UNK also shot 50.0 percent (11-22) from behind the arc.
The Grizzlies also fared well from the field hitting 44.6 percent (29 of 65) of their shots but were just 7 of 20 (35.0 percent) from long distance.
Mortensenís squad will now have a day off before attempting to bounce back against Chadron State on Saturday night at 8 oíclock. The Eagles are now 1-10 overall and 0-5 in conference play after suffering a 72-63 road loss to Colorado State-Pueblo on Thursday evening.