Turnovers end Grizzlies' historic season
by Chris Day
WINONA, Minn.— The final score and the final result did not do justice to a historic game that was the end of the Adams State College’s historic 2006-07 men’s basketball season.
The Grizzlies trailed by 18 with 12:53 left before going on a 16-4 run to close to within 49-45 before eventually succumbing to the defensive pressure of the nation’s fifth-ranked Metro State College Roadrunners, who went on to a 71-48 win in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division II North Central Regional Championships, which started on Saturday in Winona State University’s McCown Gymnasium.
After committing just eight turnovers six days prior in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Shootout Championship against Metro State, the Grizzlies committed 25 in Saturday’s game, the first that ASC had ever played in the NCAA Division II National Tournament.
The sixth-seeded Grizzlies, winners of 12 of their last 15 coming in, trailed 32-25 at halftime. The No. 3 seed Roadrunners then went on a 15-4 run over the first 7:07 of the second half before Wes Jensen (Molalla, Ore.), who scored a team-high 14 points, hit a 3-pointer to trigger ASC’s run that allowed the Grizzlies back into the game.
However, Metro State scored the next six points, four of which came from the free throw line, as they closed out the game in style by scoring 22 of the game’s last 25.
“This team has never quit. I’m proud of the guys and what they did today and all season,” ASC Coach Larry Mortensen said in a post-game news conference.
Mortensen, who announced in January that he will step aside to concentrate on his Athletic Director duties that he also holds, led the Grizzlies to a 16-14 season that was highlighted by two playoff wins in the RMAC Shootout in last week and then this appearance in the national tournament.
The Grizzlies, who began the season just 1-7, shot a solid 50.0 percent (11-22) in the first half but committed 14 turnovers allowing the Roadrunners, who never trailed, to build a 7-0 lead.
The Grizzlies were able to claw within three on three different occasions but gave up another 7-0 run, capped by a Benas Veikalas trey, as the Roadrunners went up by 10 en-route to the halftime lead.
“The group we had in did a nice job,” Mortensen said about ASC’s big run. “We just ran out of gas using that much energy to get back into it.
“We just made to many mistakes and our decision making wasn’t as crisp as we needed it to be,” he also said.
ASC senior Roman Moniak (Sacramento, Calif.) scored 11 points to run his season total to 556, crossing the 1,000-point barrier in the process. Moniak finishes out his career with 1,003 total points.
The Roadrunners, who improved to 28-3, scored 31 of their points off the Grizzly turnovers and made 9 of 22 (40.9 percent) of their 3-point attempts. Michael Bahl had four of those treys and finished with a game-best 16 points. He also had four of the team’s 12 steals.
Metro State will now play in a semifinal game against No. 2 seed Minnesota State, Mankato. The Mavericks defeated No. 7 seed Fort Lewis 85-71 in the day’s first quarterfinal.