The Paw Print
The Adams State College Grizzlies men’s basketball team played perhaps their best basketball of the season last weekend, but failed to close out both games, losing to the Colorado State University – Pueblo ThunderWolves 88-76 on Friday night and to the New Mexico Highlands University Cowboys 104-77 on Saturday night in the final road games of the 2009-10 season.
At Massari Arena on Friday night in front of a crowd of nearly 3,330 people, the Grizzlies played a solid first half, never letting the ThunderWolves gather a lead larger than seven points, en route to a 31-31 tie at the break. Each team had only one player score in double figures, as senior forward Eric Miller came in and scored 12 of the Grizzlies’ 21 bench points. Senior guard Roman Van Allen contributed 10 points for the ThunderWolves.
The Grizzlies shot an astounding 63.2 percent from the field in the first half, but the ThunderWolves made up for their shooting woes by beating the Grizzlies in the hustle department. The ThunderWolves shot only 40.6 percent from the field, but capitalized on 13 Grizzly turnovers for 18 points, and outscored the Grizzlies 9-2 on second chance points in an otherwise even first half.
The early minutes of the second half progressed in much the same way that the first half did, with neither team taking much of an advantage. That pattern would prove to be short-lived, as 3-pointers from senior forward Chris Busch and senior guard Marc Williams put the ThunderWolves in front for remainder of the game.
The Grizzlies were able to chip away at the ThunderWolves’ lead, getting within five points with 10:43 left on the clock following a bucket by Miller, but the ThunderWolves exploded for 30 points in the game’s last 10 minutes to seal the victory.
Freshman Nick Fox, a stellar performer all season long for the Grizzlies, played only five minutes in the first half, but took over the offense in the second half, scoring 15 of his 17 points on five of seven second-half attempts.
Ultimately, hot second-half shooting from the ThunderWolves to the tune of 58.6 percent, and losing the turnover battle eliminated any chance the Grizzlies had at a comeback.
The ThunderWolves improved to 13-8 overall and 8-6 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference with the victory, and hold a single-game lead over the Western New Mexico University Mustangs for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division.
Grizzlies lose to NMHU (2-13-10)
Saturday night saw the Grizzlies face a different opponent with a nearly identical outcome to Friday night’s game. The Grizzlies played a solid first half. The bench came in and scored in double figures; however, the Grizzlies piled up costly turnovers. The Cowboys ended up doing exactly what the ThunderWolves accomplished the previous night to earn the victory, capitalizing on 11 Grizzly turnovers for 19 points in the first half.
In spite of the turnovers, the Grizzlies entered the break only trailing by three points, 43-40, in large part to the effective bench play and the performance offered by Fox, who tallied 12 points on 4 of 8 shooting and a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.
The second half was more of the same from Friday night, and a continuation of the pattern that has developed all season long. Defense went by the wayside again in the second half, as the Cowboys hit 12 3-pointers and shot an absurd 74.2 percent from the field. In all, the Cowboys scored 61 points in the second half.
The Cowboys were led in the scoring column by the usual suspects, including senior guard Roman Andrade, the RMAC’s leading scorer, who poured in 27 points. Sophomore guard Midaugas Markevicius added 18 points of his own, 12 of which came from downtown, and freshman guard Kelvin Franklin contributed 17 points.
Fox finished the game with 20 points to lead the Grizzlies, and Miller finished with his second consecutive solid game, adding 19 points on the night. Junior forward Seth Heinbaugh and sophomore guard Robby Hanzlik each scored in double figures as well, with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Cowboys, who lead the RMAC in scoring with 89.6 points per game, improved to 16-7 overall and 10-5 in the RMAC.
The Grizzlies once again were unable to snap what is now an 11-game losing streak, and their overall record falls to 4-19, with a 1-14 mark in the RMAC. They will now attempt to win back at Plachy Hall, home of half of their wins of the season, on Friday, Feb. 19 against No. 9 Mesa State at 8 p.m., the first of their four straight home games to close the season.