Grizzly men fall to No. 25 Skyhwaks
DURANGO, Colo.— “They’re the real deal wherever the play.”
That’s what Adams State College men’s basketball coach Mark Murdock said about the nationally-ranked Fort Lewis College Skyhawks after they completed a season sweep of the visiting Grizzlies with a 99-81 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference win, Friday night here in the Whalen Gymnasium.
The victory was FLC’s ninth straight at home and allowed the No. 25 Skyhawks to clinch the RMAC West Division title outright. They, the Grizzlies and Mesa State (11-12, 8-8 RMAC), who ASC faces on Saturday in Grand Junction, all shared the title last year.
The Skyhawks, who also won 2004-05 and 2005-06 RMAC West Division crowns, are now 19-4 overall and 14-2 in RMAC play, good for a single-game lead on East Division leading Colorado Christian in the overall RMAC regular season title chase. Both of those teams and the Grizzlies (16-8, 10-6 RMAC) have three regular season games left.
The Grizzlies did get some help on Friday as the Metro State College Roadrunners knocked off Nebraska-Kearney in Denver earlier in the evening. That result keeps the Grizzlies and Lopers tied for third place in the overall RMAC standings.
Western New Mexico, which visits “The Den” next Friday, is just a half-game behind at 10-7 while the Roadrunners took a monstrous step towards a RMAC Tournament berth and are now just one game behind the Lopers and Grizzlies at 9-7.
Mesa State and Regis are tied for seventh at 8-8 while Western State, currently 7-9, would be outside looking in if the regular season was complete.
The top four teams in the final regular season standings get to host RMAC Shootout Quarterfinal games against teams ranked five through eight.
In Friday’s win, the Skyhawks controlled the game from the outset and shot 57.8 percent (37-64) from the field.
Devon Manning, who also grabbed a game-high 11 points, and Tim Crowell, who had eight assists, poured in 24 points a piece to lead the way. The Skyhawks also received 17 points from Matt Morris and another 14 from Ryan Johnson.
The Grizzlies were led by senior guard Larry Charles, Jr. (Tucson, Ariz.), who scored 15 off the bench during a 5-for-7 floor shooting effort.
Junior Sean Amos (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Brandon Graber (Hutchinson, Kan.) added 13 and 12 more, respectively, while Forrest Becker (Albuquerque, N.M.) scored a career-high 11 in just six minutes of playing time. He was an impressive 4-for-5 from the field and 3-for-4 from long distance down the stretch.
“I’ve been badly out-coached twice by him, Murdock said in comparison to the Skyhawks’ Bob Hofman, a multiple-time RMAC Coach of the Year.
“I didn’t answer the bell. The team has some fault since they didn’t play hard enough for the first 30 minutes. We’ve all got some responsibility but it starts with me,” Murdock added.
The Skyhawks, who bested ASC 82-59, less than two weeks ago in Alamosa, scored the first seven points of the game and led by as many as 10 before the Grizzlies knew what him them.
The visitors then settled in were down just six on a Charles, Jr. bucket and Graber 3-pointer before the Skyhawks gradually built their lead to as many as 15 in the first half.
Leading 48-35 at the break, the Skyhawks went on a 10-0 run to start the second stanza. They led by as many as 27 with less than five minutes to go before the Grizzlies played better in the final minutes outscoring the Skyhawks 16-7 down the stretch.
Becker, who hadn’t played in ASC’s last three games since seeing two minutes against the Skyhawks on Feb. 2, scored each of ASC’s last 11 points over the final 2:48.
Saturday’s contest with Mesa State in the Mavs’ Brownson Arena will start 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.
The Grizzlies claimed an 82-73 overtime win over the Mavericks on Feb. 1 in Plachy Hall.