Grizzlies test 20-win Pioneers in first of three exhibitions
DENVER— The new look Adams State College men’s basketball team gave the reigning Sun Belt Conference West Division Champion University of Denver Pioneers all they could handle before succumbing 73-66 in an exhibition game on Thursday night in the Pioneers’ Hamilton Gymnasium.
The six new Grizzlies who saw action in the season-opener for both teams, combined for 39 of ASC’s points. Preseason SBC Player of the Year Yemi Nicholson had 25 to pace the Division I Pioneers, who went 20-11 before advancing to the National Invitational Tournament last season.
Junior wing Wes Jensen (Molalla, Ore.) led the Grizzlies with 14 points. The Clackamas (Ore.) Community College transfer hit 4 of 8 3-pointers.and was 5 of 10 overall. Junior Roman Moniak (Sacramento, Calif.), a transfer from San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) College, had 11 points and three offensive boards while senior Greg Baker (Lewisville, Texas) led the ASC veterans with 13 points.
The Grizzlies trailed by just nine at the half despite shooting just 36.7 percent (11 of 30) from the field. However, they heated up in the second stanza as they shot 54.5 percent (6 of 11) from behind the arc and 50 percent (13 of 26) overall while outscoring the Pioneers 40-38.
ASC had led 14-13 after a Larry Charles, Jr. (Tucson, Ariz.) 3-pointer with 11:12 left in the first half before the 6-foot-10 Nicholson triggered a 13-0 run with a dunk and ensuing free throw.
The Grizzlies went on to score seven straight points to trim a 14-point deficit in half.
After the break and Nicholson layup that stretched the Pioneer advantage to double figures, Jensen scored three of his nine second half points starting a 5-0 Grizzly spurt that cut the deficit to just six with 18:37 left. Nicholson then recorded a pair of dunks highlighting a 12-2 run that gave the Pioneers some breathing room.
ASC then cut a 16-point deficit down to as few as five but ran out of time.
Nicholson was a solid 9 of 13 (.692) from the floor and also sank 7 of 8 free throws while grabbing a game-high eight rebounds to lead DU to a 36-33 advantage in that category. Phil Brown (Shingle Springs, Calif.) had seven boards to pace the Grizzlies
ASC will play two more exhibition games against Division I opponents next week starting Thursday at Southern Utah. The Grizzlies open the regular season at home on Nov. 19 at 4 p.m. against NAIA power Lubbock Christian.
The Pioneers will play host to another Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference foe in the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Mountain Lions at 3 p.m. Saturday.