Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
A rocking crowd. A comfortable lead. Strong defense. Timely offense.
The stage was set for the biggest victory thus far for the Fort Lewis College men’s basketball team on Saturday at Whalen Gymnasium.
Then, it all came undone. And there were no late-game heroics to pull the Skyhawks from the fire.
An 18-5 run turned a 12-point FLC lead into a deficit, and Adams State held on to hand Fort Lewis its first loss 82-76 on Saturday.
The Skyhawks (5-1, 2-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) led by as much as 48-30 in the first half. They were up 65-52 when Adams State (5-0, 3-0 RMAC), the nation’s top team in field-goal percentage defense, held defensively. The Grizzlies stopped the Skyhawks without a field goal for nearly the last 10:27 of the game, finally putting it away on a pair of layups and four free throws in the final 1 minute, 23 seconds.
“They would go down and score, and we’d have to work so hard to get a good-looking shot, and they’d come down so fast,” Fort Lewis head coach Bob Hofman said.
The Grizzlies used their transition game to get back on top, finally getting out and running and beating the Fort Lewis defense down the floor too often for Hofman’s liking.
“They made us ... get comfortable,” said Marcus Ayala, who led FLC with 16 points. “They picked up the intensity while we thought we were ahead by so much that we didn’t come out with intensity.”
Alex Herrera had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Skyhawks, and Nick Tomsick added 15 to help FLC build a 48-30 lead and an eventual 48-36 halftime advantage.
James Lake led the Grizzlies with 19 points, while Kaimyn Pruitt had 11 points and 13 rebounds.