Grizzly men stumble in OT at WSC, but get help
ASC to host NMHU in Tuesday night RMAC Tourney game
GUNNISON, Colo.— Playing their second overtime game in as many nights, the Adams State College men’s basketball team fell just short of claiming their 20th win of the season as Western State College’s Weylan Towns hit two free throws with 4.5 seconds left in the extra frame, lifting the Mountaineers to a 98-96 victory over the Grizzlies in a classic battle of arch-rivals, Saturday night here in the Paul W. Wright Gymnasium.
However, the Grizzlies did get some help from Western New Mexico and Mesa State, the team they defeated in overtime on Friday night, and will still host a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Shootout Quarterfinal game against New Mexico Highlands on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Adams State, Fort Lewis, which fell at Mesa State, and New Mexico Highlands, which lost to their in-state rivals in Silver City, all finished the regular season with identical 15-7 RMAC records.
However, Fort Lewis will be the third seed in the post-season tournament and will host sixth-seeded Mesa State in Durango by virtue of their 3-1 record in head-to-head games against the Grizzlies and New Mexico Highlands. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will host the Cowboys in a 4-5 battle of teams that split regular season contests. The Grizzlies earned the right to host the rubber match because of a complicated point system that went the Grizzlies way.
Although the Grizzlies still managed to get a home game, just their second playoff home game in the program’s NCAA Division II era (1992-93/Present) history they did see their NCAA Tournament hopes take a hit as Saturday’s loss ended the Grizzlies’ 5-game winning streak.
Adams State, now 19-7 overall, had entered the weekend ranked ninth in the NCAA Division II Central Regional rankings that will be updated again on Wednesday afternoon. Those rankings could be very interesting as Mesa State was ranked seventh in this week’s grouping while New Mexico Highlands was tabbed eighth. Fort Lewis was also ranked fifth coming into the week.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineers could care less about the rankings but could not be more thrilled with their come-from-behind season-ending and Senior Night victory over the Grizzlies, who have now lost three straight here since pulling out a double-overtime win on Feb. 7, 2008.
The pesky Mountaineers, who finish the season with 8-19 overall and 7-15 RMAC records, trailed by as many as 13 early in the first half and by 10 with eight minutes left in the second but managed to answer an earlier 13-1 Grizzly run, highlighted by a trio of Deray Wilson (Anchorage, Alaska) long-distance calls that reversed what was a 52-49 Mountaineer lead into a 62-53 Grizzly advantage with 13:02 to go.
The Mountaineers would not go away and trailed by just four in the final minute before Towns scored the team’s next six points to twice make it a 2-point game.
Wilson, who finished with 22 points to lead the Grizzlies, then made three of four free throws but left the door open with a single charity stripe miss with nine seconds left in regulation.
Alex Hart, who had earlier given the Mountaineers their 52-49 lead with a trey, then stepped right through that door, canning another trey with 3.2 seconds left to send the contest to overtime tied at 86.
Grizzly junior Shayar Lee (Phoenix, Ariz.) scored the first two points of the overtime from the free throw line before Western’s Andrew Zehnder answered right back.
The Mountaineers then scored their next four points from the free throw line, where they were 27-for-38 overall (71.1 percent) to build a 92-88 lead with 3:28 to go.
The Grizzlies’ Marqus Richards and Towns then exchanged buckets before Richards and Wilson tied the game at 94 around a Wilson swipe of Towns.
Zehnder then put the Mountaineers back up by two with a layup with 1:43 left before Richards responded once again to tie the game with 33 seconds left in overtime.
Able to hold the ball for the rest of the way, the Mountaineers nearly did just that before Wilson was called for a pushing foul that sent Towns to the line for the eventual game-winning free throws.
Towns finished the night with 27 points and 10 a game-high 10 assists while Zehnder, a senior, finished with 20 points in his final collegiate game.
Meanwhile, Richards finished with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds to record his team-best fourth double-double of the season while coming off the bench.
Junior Robby Hanzlik (Denver, Colo.) also added 15 points while junior Davin Anderson (Louisville, Ky.) tallied a season-high 12 points as he started at the point guard position in place of Jamiko Verner (Denver, Colo.), who was injured right before the half-time buzzer of the Mesa State game on Friday.
The Grizzlies dominated the glass claiming 22 offensive and 44 total rebounds while holding Western State to just 28 total and eight offensive boards. However, the Mountaineers shot 56.7 percent (17-30) from the field in the second half and 54.5 percent (30-55) overall. They were also 3-for-4 from the field in overtime and nailed 11 3-pointers throughout the night.
The Grizzlies were a solid 7-for-15 (46.7 percent) from 3-point territory but shot just 44.6 percent (29-65) throughout the night.