#17 Skyhawks rout Grizzly men to claim 20-win season
Alamosa, Colo.— The Fort Lewis College Skyhawks, who moved up three spots to 17th in the National Association of Basketball Coaches/Division II Men's Basketball Poll on Tuesday, hit 14 3-pointers while shooting a solid 48.4 percent from the field to rout an overmatched Adams State College Grizzly squad by an 83-54 count in the evening in Plachy Hall. The Skyhawks, who have already clinched their third RMAC West Division title in four years, sealed a 20-win season for the first time since 2001-02 and took a half-game lead on fourth-ranked Metro State College and the University of Nebraska-Kearney for the overall RMAC lead. FLC is now 20-4 overall and 15-3 in RMAC action. ASC fell to 3-23 overall and 3-15 in RMAC action.
The Skyhawks, who had 19 wins in each of the last two seasons, had four players in double figures and shot 43.8 percent (14-32) from 3-point territory. Sophomore Tim Bieri led the way with 13 points on a 5 of 7 shooting effort while Derek Yutzy scored all 12 of his points from long distance. Nick Brooks, who also had a game-high seven rebounds, and Kevin Williams chipped in 10 points a piece. Yutzy also dished out a game-high eight assists and led FLC to a 27-14 advantage in that category.
The Grizzlies were paced by senior forward David Mitchell, who followed a career-high 38-point effort in Saturday night's 93-68 win over CU-Colorado Springs with a game-high 17 points against the Skyhawks. He heated up in the second half and scored 12 points on a 6 of 7 shooting effort in that period. Mitchell, a 6-foot-8 Melbourne, Victoria, Australia native, was just 1 of 5 while scoring five points in the first half.
Redshirt freshman point guard Larry Charles also turned in a fine effort scoring 11 points while dishing out four assists to share the team lead with starting point guard Marcus Mortensen. Charles also shared the team lead for rebounding with Mitchell. Each had six boards.
The Skyhawks led throughout and raced to a 7-0 lead in the first 2:17 of the game. The Grizzlies then called a timeout and pulled to within three on a Richard Mincey 3-pointer and Mitchell free throw before Bieri knocked down one of his three 3-pointers to give the Skyhawks a 10-4 lead.
ASC pulled to within four on two Mitchell free throws but would get no closer as 14-2 run over the last five minutes of the first half gave the Skyhawks a 41-22 halftime cushion.
FLC, which shot a solid 51.6 percent (16-31) in the second half, then poured it on building a 56-28 lead with a 11-2 second half run. Yutzy and Bieri each hit treys to highlight that spurt.
Bob Hofman's squad continued to build the advantage and led by 38 on a Kent Grams trey with 2:48 left before the Grizzlies ate into that lead against the Skyhawk reserves.
The Grizzlies committed 17 turnovers, which turned into 20 Skyhawk points. FLC had just nine turnovers and had a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. ASC was also just 4 of 21 (19.0 percent) from 3-point land in what was the Grizzlies' worst home loss of the year.
ASC will not have long to dwell on the game and will face Colorado State University-Pueblo on Thursday night. The ThunderWolves (12-13, 7-10 RMAC) face a must-win and are a game behind New Mexico Highlands University for the eighth and final RMAC Wells Fargo Shootout spot. The Skyhawks will also host CSU-Pueblo on Saturday night and will be gunning for at least a share of the overall RMAC regular season title, something they have not win since 1989. Mitchell, ASC's lone senior will be honored before Thursday's 8 p.m. game, which can be heard on KSPK-FM (103.5 in Alamosa) and via the internet at www.kspk.com.