Grizzlies put up valiant fight against Division I Utah
SALT LAKE CITY— The Adams State College men’s basketball team put up a valiant fight against one of the top ten NCAA Division I programs of all time before succumbing to the University of Utah Utes by a 68-51 margin in front of a crowd of more than 9,000 on Monday night in the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
ASC was down 29-15 at the half after shooting just 25.0 percent (6-for-24) in the first half before the Grizzlies used an 8-1 run at the beginning of the second half to close the gap to just seven.
The Division II Grizzlies were down to the 2005 Sweet 16 team by just eight points with 11:40 left after a Jensen 3-pointer and were down by just nine with under 10 minutes left before a 10-0 run, triggered by a Bryant Markson trey ended ASC’s hopes of a mammoth-sized upset.
Markson finished the game with 12 points while 6-foot-8 freshman forward Shaun Green scored 11, including nine of which came from 3-point territory.
Junior wing Wes Jensen (Molalla, Ore.) hit five 3-pointers while scoring a game and career-high 17 points to lead the Grizzlies. ASC also received a season-high 15 points from Richard Mincey (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who started his second straight game after averaging just nine minutes of playing time in ASC’s first six contests.
Entering the season with a .663 all-time winning percentage, good for 10th place in NCAA Division I, Utah improved to 6-3 with the win. The Utes also started a new home-court winning streak after their 21-game streak was snapped by a 73-43 drubbing by nationally-ranked Arizona in front of a national television audience on Saturday afternoon.
ASC dropped to 5-4 after playing the Utes for the second time in school history.
Thinking the Utes were susceptible to the long range shot, Coach Larry Mortensen and the Grizzlies tried the 3-pointer early and often. However, the Grizzlies missed their first 11 3-pointers and finished the first half just 2-for-15 (13.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
“We had a lot of good looks and I think if we would have hit a couple of them, our energy would have picked up and things might have been a little different,” Mortensen said in a post-game interview.
The Grizzlies started clicking offensively in the second half shooting 51.9 percent (14-for-27) in the stanza. However, Utah went to the 6-foot-7 Markson and to 7-foot-1 freshman Luke Nevill as the Utes started working the inside game in the second half.
“Utah was a little too physical and a little too deep for us. They really wore us down on the inside,” Mortensen said.
The Grizzlies were playing their third road game in the last four days and scored just two points in the first 10 minutes as Utah went up 14-2 with a Nevill tip-in at the 10:27 mark of the first half.
“We were a little nervous because we couldn't get a bucket in during the first 10 minutes. But I give our guys credit for hanging in there and coming back a bit in the end,” Mortensen said.
We kind of flip-flopped; we couldn't get a bucket in during the first half, but did pretty well in the second. If we kept our defense up in the second half, I think we would have been more competitive."
Jensen had four of his 3-pointers and 12 points in the second half. He also had a game and career-high three steals and a game best three blocked shots, which matched his career-high.
The Grizzlies went to the free throw line just three times throughout the night while the Utes hit 15 of 24 (62.5 percent) of their charity tosses.
ASC is now off for a week before returning to practice on Dec. 26 in preparation for Dec. 30 and 31 games at the Chap Classic hosted by Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock, Texas. ASC will play NAIA Wayland Baptist (Texas) in the first game of that tournament at 5 p.m. (CST). The game with the 5-3 Pioneers can be heard live on KSPK-FM (103.5 in Alamosa) and via the internet at www.kspk.com.
The Dec. 31 game against the host Chaps (2-7) will be a rematch of ASC’s 60-47 season-opening win on Nov. 19 in Plachy Hall. That game tips off at 4 p.m. (CST) and can be heard on KSPK on a tape-delay basis after the Denver Broncos game against the San Diego Chargers.