Fort Lewis College suffered something it hasn’t had to endure much of the last three seasons under head coach Bob Pietrack: consecutive losses.
No. 21 FLC (21-5, 17-4 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) was torched by the Adams State University Grizzlies 107-93 on Tuesday night in Alamosa. The loss came only three days after the Skyhawks fell 79-68 at Colorado School of Mines.
“We just didn’t play hard enough in the first half and dug ourself too deep of a hole,” Pietrack said. “It was a poor performance for us and a really good performance from them. It’s time to get back to the drawing board and figure out why.”
Adams State (16-11, 14-7 RMAC) was playing for its postseason life as a bubble team to get a top-eight finish in the RMAC to reach next week’s conference tournament. The Grizzlies roared to a 21-8 lead through the first five minutes of the game and rarely stumbled the rest of the way, even when the Skyhawks got hot on offense.
Adams State claimed a 53-41 advantage at halftime and saw that lead swell to 20-plus points three times, but also saw it dwindle to single-digits twice before it put away the Skyhawks for good in the final 90 seconds.
The Grizzlies shot 71 percent (22-of-31) from the field in the first half and made 4-of-10 attempts from 3-point range. Most of the team’s looks came from right under the basket with multiple dunks and open layups. The Grizzlies outscored FLC 66-38 in the paint.
FLC also was owned on the glass, as the Grizzlies outrebounded the Skyhawks 42-28. The Grizzlies finished the game shooting 61.5 percent from the field and 7-of-18 from 3.
“The second half, we were playing catch up and couldn’t play our bigs,” Pietrack said. “We were playing full-court press.”
Shane Johnson paced Adams State with 30 points and four rebounds. Brandon Sly added 20 points, 10 assists and five rebounds, Mike Thomas scored 14 and Jarrett Givens contributed 12 points.
“Sly played fantastic, and Shane Johnson was very good,” Pietrack said. “We just didn’t play well enough in a good game against a good team.”
Rasmus Bach led FLC with 27 points, while Marquel Beasley finished with 23 and Daniel Hernandez scored 17 points. Alex Semadeni came off the bench to score nine points, with seven coming in the game’s final five minutes. Semadeni led the team with six rebounds.
FLC’s bench was outscored 27-13.
Now, FLC will get ready to play for the regular-season conference championship in the regular-season final Saturday night against Westminster College (20-4, 16-4 RMAC). Westminster will visit Adams State on Thursday before coming to Durango.
Saturday will be the last game of the season for Westminster, which is postseason ineligible in its final year of a transition period from NAIA to NCAA Division II. Though Westminster can’t play in the conference tournament, it can still win the regular-season conference title and the trophy that comes with it.
An FLC win, and the Skyhawks will be conference champs. A Westminster win, and the shiny trophy goes to Salt Lake City with the Griffins.
“We just have to find a way to get better,” Pietrack said. “This four-game road trip has been tough on us. We had some of our tougher road games toward the back end in tough places to play. We have to find our rhythm and get better. We have not played well, and I take the blame for that.”