ASC Sports Information Director
DURANGO, Colo. – Adams State trailed by five points with just two minutes remaining on the road at Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) rival Fort Lewis on Saturday night, but forced a pair of turnovers in the waning moments before junior Kaimyn Pruitt (Los Angeles, Calif.) hit the game-winning layup and came up with a big block during the final 17 seconds in the Grizzlies’ win over the Skyhawks.
The win is the Grizzles’ third in their last four games road games, and saw Adams State improve to 14-4 overall and 10-4 in RMAC play this season. ASC remains third in the RMAC standings, two-and-a-half back of league leader and 11th-ranked Colorado Mines at 13-2 in conference play, and now just one-and-a-half back of 4th-ranked Metro State which lost its second straight on Saturday and owns a 13-2 RMAC record.
Saturday’s loss dropped the Skyhawks to 7-7 in league play and eighth in the RMAC standings.
A high-octane first half saw five different Grizzlies score at least five points, while Division II steals leader Jamiko Verner (Denver, Colo.) swiped four in the opening 20 minutes, and ASC took a 39-34 lead into the break.
But FLC, which hit nine 3-pointers in the game, hit four in the second half to overtake Adams State after the Grizzlies reached a game-high seven point lead (47-40), with 14 minutes and 28 seconds remaining.
The Skyhawks responded with a 9-0 run to grab a 49-47 advantage, and would not trail again until less than a minute remained.
With 4:18 to play, Verner hit one of two from the charity stripe to bring ASC within three, but neither team would score another point until FLC’s Matt Morris, who bucketed a game-high 28 points, hit two free throws with 2:08 on the clock, making it a 69-64 game in favor of Fort Lewis.
Twelve seconds later Grizzly senior Marqus Richards (Los Angeles, Calif.) scored the final of his 13 in the game to bring ASC within one possession, before Pruitt hit two layups inside the final minute of play to put ASC up 70-69 with 17 ticks to go.
After Pruitt’s final basket that put the Grizzlies up by one, the ball was in Morris’ hands for the would-be go-ahead points, but Pruitt came up with a potentially game-saving block with seven seconds left, preserving the road victory for Adams State.
Pruitt scored 17 to lead ASC on Saturday, while senior Robby Hanzlik (Denver, Colo.) scored 14 and hit two of ASC’s four 3-pointers in the game.
Verner followed up a four steal first half with another three in the second to make it a season-high seven in the game, one shy of his career-high. Verner also accounted for four assists in the game, while senior Deray Wilson (Anchorage, Alaska) led the way for ASC with five.
Adams State is now 4-4 on the road this season, and recorded its first win in Durango since Feb. 3, 2004.
Saturday’s win also allowed the Grizzlies to put a gap between themselves and Nebraska-Kearney, with whom they were tied for third in the RMAC standings entering the weekend, before the Lopers fell to Colorado Christian and the Orediggers over the weekend.
After recording three wins during their 4-game road trip, Adams State returns to Plachy Hall next weekend with a chance to avenge a pair of losses from the beginning of January. The Grizzlies will be at home on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3 and 4, facing New Mexico Highlands and Western New Mexico. The ASC men will get underway at 8 p.m. both nights, following 6 p.m. women’s contests.