Unlikely hero leads Grizzlies past Lewis-Clark State
ASC off to best start in Division II era
DURANGO, Colo.— Junior Brandon Graber (Hutchinson, Kan.) had the game of his young Adams State College career as he hit 9 of 10 shots from the field while scoring a game-high 29 point to lead the Adams State College Grizzlies past NAIA power Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), 84-73 at the Skyhawk Basketball Classic, here in Fort Lewis College’s Whalen Activity Center.
Graber hit 4 of 5 3-point attempts and was also 7 of 8 from the free throw line as the Grizzlies withstood a late Warrior charge before icing their fourth straight win at the free throw line.
The Grizzlies, who had five players in double figures for the fourth straight game, shot 60.4 percent from the field and 53.3 percent (8-15) from 3-point territory as they improved to 6-1, the team’s best start in ASC’s NCAA Division II (1992-93/Present) history.
The Warriors, who forced 26 Grizzly turnovers with their zone defense, recorded 17 steals but fell to 6-4. They were tied for 13th in the NAIA Division I Top 25 Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The Grizzlies trailed by five (33-28) with 2:45 left in the first half before a pair of Graber treys highlighted a 8-3 run that allowed the Grizzlies to tie the game.
Graber then hit four more free throws before a Sean Amos (Philadelphia, Pa.) layup gave ASC a 42-38 halftime lead.
The Grizzlies, who shot 65.0 percent from the field in the second half, came out roaring building a 60-45 lead in the first 5:35 of the period before a 14-0 Warrior run made it a 1-point game (60-59).
Graber then came up big with two more treys as the Grizzlies built the lead back up to nine before another Warrior run, capped by a Rob Comer three cut ASC’s lead to 73-71.
However, the Grizzlies got a Rece Hampton (Greenwood, Miss.) dunk and Marcus Mortensen (Cortez, Colo.) 3-pointer to lead by seven before Larry Charles, Jr. (Tucson, Ariz.) hit four straight free throws to ice the game.
Hampton finished the night with 14 points, seven rebounds, a career-high seven assists and a career-high five steals. Vitor de Zoppa (Sorocaba, Sao Paulo, Brazil) also had 14 points while Mortensen had 11 to go along with six assists. Charles, Jr. finished with 10 points.
Mike Gordy led the Warriors with 24 points. He scored eight from the line. Justin Fraser had 16 points, 12 of which came from beyond the arc, while Mikel Watson scored 12 while grabbing six of the Warriors’ 20 total rebounds.
ASC racked up 36 caroms and recorded 26 assists on 29 field goals, the most an ASC team has had since 1999.
Graber had been averaging just 3.0 points per game coming into Friday’s contest.
The Grizzlies winners of 19 of their last 25 games dating back to Jan. 6, now prepare to begin defense of their first RMAC West Division title next Friday when they begin conference play at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, which is 4-2 after scoring a 79-78 win over Division I Southern Utah on Friday before seeing a 4-game winning streak snapped with a 107-83 loss to Dixie State (Utah) on Saturday.
Tip-off in the Lions’ Den is at 8 p.m. and can be heard on KSPK-FM (103.5 & 104.1 in Alamosa) and via the internet at www.kspk.com.