Jensen-led Grizzlies not enough for East co-leading Lopers
ALAMOSA, Colo.ó Adams State College junior wing Wes Jensen (Molalla, Ore.) scored a career-high 20 points while matching a career-high by making five 3-pointers but was not enough to stop the University of Nebraska-Kearney Lopers, who forged into a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference East Division first place tie with arch-rival Fort Hays State, thanks to a 73-61 win over the Grizzlies on Saturday night in Plachy Hall. The Lopers, who had four players in double figures, won their fifth straight game and improved to 8-3 overall and 5-0 in RMAC play. The Grizzlies dropped their fourth straight and fell to 5-7 overall and 3-2 in league play, just one game behind Fort Lewis in the West Division standings.
The Lopers shot 53.3 percent (8 of 15) from 3-point land and 52.6 percent (20 of 38) overall. ASC shot just 30.8 percent (8 of 26) in the first half before heating up to 53.6 percent (15 of 28) in the second to make a game of it.
ASC, which also received a 14-point effort from junior Roman Moniak (Sacramento, Calif.), trailed by as many as 15 and by 13 (34-21) at the halftime before closing the gap to as few as five in the second stanza.
The Lopers then used a 7-2 run, keyed by a Avery Stephenson 3-ball with 3:46 to go to put the game away.
Chad Burger hit four of five 3-pointers while scoring 18 points to lead UNK while Dusty Jura, the RMACís Preseason Player of the Year, recorded the gameís only double-double with 13 points and as many rebounds.
James Lane added 14 points for the Lopers while Chris Dean scored 11. Jura and Lane each made seven free throws as UNK made a living from the line, hitting 25 of 36 (69.4 percent) attempts. They were 19 of 26 (73.1 percent) in the second half. The Grizzlies were just 50.0 percent (8-for-16) from the charity stripe throughout the night.
Looking for their first ever win over the Lopers, ASC raced to 5-0 lead before a Burger trey started a 6-0 Loper spurt that gave UNK a 6-5 lead. The Grizzlies answered back with a 6-0 run of their own to lead 11-6 at the 13-minute mark.
The Lopers then outscored the Grizzlies 26-6 over the next 10:56 before the teams settled in for the final two minutes of the half.
Trailing by 15 after a pair of Jura free throws, the Grizzlies started cutting into the deficit using a 11-3 run over 2:29 of the second half to move to within 39-32.
UNK continued to play well building the lead back up to 12 with Burger and Nick Morrell 3-pointers surrounding Jensenís fourth trey before ASC chipped to within five with 4:44 to go.
Led by Jura, UNK had a slight 32-29 rebounding advantage although the Grizzlies claimed the offensive rebounding battle 8-4. ASC recorded just three steals but forced 17 Loper turnovers. ASC committed 15 of their own but dished out 17 assists, five more than the Lopers. Sophomore guard Marcus Mortensen (Cortez, Colo.) dished out a game and career-high seven assists and did not commit a turnover.
Junior guard David Hull, ASCís second-leading scorer in 2004-05, also appeared for the first time this season. The Belen, N.M. native severely injured his knee in the spring. He played for four minutes in the second half.
Saturdayís loss was ASCís first at home this season. The Grizzlies now go on the longest road trip of their season, which starts Thursday at 8 p.m. against Chadron State (5-8, 0-5 RMAC). ASC then travels to Fort Hays State (12-1, 5-0 RMAC), ranked 15th in the nation, on Saturday at 8 p.m. (CST).