GOLDEN, Colo. – Grizzly junior Kaimyn Pruitt (Los Angeles, Calif.) tallied his second double-double in as many post-season games this season, but the Reggie Evans scored 29 for Metro State and the Roadrunners managed to hold off an ASC second half charge to earn a 79-74 win at Colorado Mines’ Lockridge Arena during the first round of the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championships on Saturday afternoon.
Adams State, the No. 7 seed, falls in the first round of the Central Region Tournament for the second straight year to a fellow Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) foe, and ends its season with a record of 19-9, just one win shy of its NCAA Division II era (1992-93/present) record, set during last season’s run to the DII tourney. The Roadrunners, ranked 13th in the final DII rankings of the season and the No. 2 seed in the Central Region, improves to 23-6 this season and advances to the Central Regional Semifinals for the second straight season.
Metro State started out fast, and less than seven minutes into the game held an 11-point, 18-7, lead.
However, a 14-0 Grizzly run over the next six minutes saw Adams State take a 3-point lead. Senior Marqus Richards (Los Angeles, Calif.), who scored 11 points, got the Grizzlies going with a layup, and the lead was cut to five points following points in the paint from juniors Jack Osborn (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia) and Kaimyn Pruitt (Los Angeles, Calif.).
Senior Deray Wilson (Anchorage, Alaska) then hit his lone 3-pointer on seven attempts in the game to cut the lead to two, and would eventually give Adams its first lead of the game, 19-18, on a jumper in the paint.
MSC retook the lead a little over two minutes later on one of Evans’ 10 made field goals in the game. Evans then hit a pair of his nine free throws with just over one minute left before the half to make it a six point game, 33-27.
After a 3-pointer from senior Jamiko Verner (Denver, Colo.), the game appeared to be headed into the break with the Grizzlies down just one possession, but Evans struck again with eight seconds on the clock and MSC led 35-30 at intermission.
Osborn gave ASC its lone lead of the second half, 41-40, with 15:26 to play before the Roadrunners methodically worked their way out to a 13-point advantage (63-50), leaving the Grizzlies with a mountain to climb and only 6:34 on the clock.
The Grizzlies though showed no sign of giving in, despite struggling to cut into the Roadrunner lead.
Adams State continued to trail by double digits as the game entered its final minute, before a pair of Wilson free throws with 51 seconds left brought Adams State within nine points, 66-75.
Juniors Shaheed Young (San Francisco, Calif.) and John Jackson (Phoenix, Ariz.) then hit triples on either side of a 1-for-2 trip to the line from Metro State’s Brandon Jefferson, and with 28 seconds to play ASC was down by just four points, 76-72.
Paul Brotherson then hit on just one of two free throw attempts for the Roadrunners before Wilson hit on a pair of attempts, and the Grizzlies were suddenly down by just one possession with 17 seconds to play.
The Grizzlies quickly forced Brotherson into one of MSC’s 14 turnovers in the game to get the ball right back. That’s when the ball found its way into Wilson’s hands once again, but his attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining wouldn’t go.
After the missed triple, Brotherson hit a pair of free throws to put Metro State back on by five for the game’s final of 79-74.
Pruitt, who scored 16 points and grabbed 14 boards in the Grizzlies’ RMAC Shootout Quarterfinal against Fort Lewis, was good for 14 points and 15 rebounds against Metro State Saturday.
Osborn matched Pruitt’s team high 14 points while grabbing five boards of his own.
Wilson and Richard accounted for 11 points each. The Grizzlies had to play without Richards’ services for the final six minutes Saturday, as the senior was one of the three ASC players to foul out of the game.
Verner and senior Robby Hanzlik (Denver, Colo.) also exited the game with the maximum five fouls. Verner, who scored five points while dishing out eight assist and swiping two steals, exited with just over a minute remaining, while Hanzlik fouled out with 5:47 to play after scoring four points.
The Adams State-Metro State match-up on Saturday was the only of the four games at Lockridge to feature two RMAC squads. Host Colorado Mines, ranked No. 1 in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC)/Division II Poll and first in the region, is the only RMAC squad in the tournament, while the other five squads come from the Northern Sun (NSIC).
The Roadrunners will advance to take on No. 6 seed St. Cloud State (Minn.), which topped No. 3 seed Bemidji State (Minn.), 77-72, in Saturday’s opening game.
Top-seeded CSM defeated Augustana (S.D.) on Saturday evening, and will take on the winner of Saturday’s opening round finale between Southwest Minnesota State and Minnesota State-Moorhead.