The Adams State College Grizzlies men’s basketball team won their Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference season opener on Friday night, defeating the Lonnie Porter coached Regis University Rangers 76-64 at the Regis Fieldhouse.
Junior forward Seth Heinbaugh led the Grizzlies in scoring with 19 points and a game-high seven rebounds, five of which came on the offensive glass. Sophomore guard Robby Hanzlik, coming off an ankle injury, added 14 points in only 16 minutes off the bench, while senior guard Xavier Lewis contributed 10 points.
The Rangers got out to a quick start, breaking a 7-7 tie with a 13-2 run to take a 20-9 lead with 12:51 remaining in the first half. The Grizzlies countered just as quickly, scoring on five of their next seven possessions to pull within four points, and tied the game at 24 with 8:04 on the clock.
The teams traded buckets to tie the game at 30 with 5:02 left in the half before the Grizzlies went on an 11-5 run to close out the half leading by six points, 41-35.
The Rangers, building on the momentum they gathered by scoring the final four points of the first half, began the second half on an 11-3 run to take a 46-44 lead early in the second half. The teams traded buckets again before the Grizzlies took the lead for good on a Hanzlik 3-pointer with 15:15 to go in the game.
The Rangers were able to contain the Grizzlies for the next five minutes of game time, keeping the Grizzly lead manageable, pulling within one point yet again with 9:35 on the clock. The Grizzlies then opened up the floodgates, pouring in a 3-point play by Heinbaugh, followed by Lewis and senior guard Forrest Becker dialing it up from long distance on the run that would prove to be the nail in the coffin for the Rangers.
The Grizzlies shot well enough from the field (48.2 percent) to cover for the 19 turnovers they committed throughout the game. However, the Grizzlies were able to play smart when they really needed to, as only five of those turnovers came in the second half.
The Grizzlies, who had not won against the Rangers since Dec. 10, 2005, captured their first win against the Rangers on the road in their NCAA Division II era history, and in the process spoiled Porter’s first attempt at his 500th career coaching victory, a career that has seen him become the coach with the most wins in Colorado collegiate history over his 33 years on the sideline.
The Grizzlies also snapped a 13-game conference losing streak with the victory, dating back to last year’s disappointing 4-23 (1-18 RMAC) season.
The Grizzlies continue play on Saturday afternoon against the Metro State Roadrunners, ranked 17th in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II Coaches’ Poll. The Roadrunners will enter that contest with a 4-1 record, following a 70-65 victory over the Fort Lewis College Skyhawks in their last game.