Regis made 10 shots from behind the 3-point line in the final 15 minutes, 41 seconds of play Saturday night, and the hot shooting sank the host Skyhawks.
In a rematch of last year’s Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament championship game in the same Whalen Gymnasium, Regis again came out on top of the Fort Lewis College men’s basketball team.
This year, FLC hasn’t been close to contending for a conference title in an adversity filled season. Meanwhile, Regis once against has RMAC and regional tournament hopes at stake and came into Saturday’s game angry after a 77-70 loss to Adams State a night before.
While the Skyhawks (10-13, 5-12 RMAC) kept the game close for much of the night, they simply didn’t have the firepower to match Regis (16-7, 13-4 RMAC), which answered every big FLC bucket with one of its own in a 86-70 victory.
“Regis is a good basketball team, and they played an A tonight,” FLC head coach Bob Pietrack said. “Going 11-of-18 from 3 in the second half, that’s tough. We made runs, but I think they made five straight 3s after we had cut it to three. Our defense let down. We really needed to guard an A tonight, and obviously we didn’t.”
Jarrett Brodbeck led Regis with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-8 from 3. He made two big 3s in the final 10 minutes to help put the game away. Christian Little and Roberto Vercellino combined to go 5-of-5 from 3, two shooters who FLC wasn’t overly worried about making long-range shots. As a team, the Rangers finished 14-of-29 from 3 to FLC’s 6-of-25.
“We were pretty grumpy,” Regis head coach Brady Bergeson said of his team coming off Friday’s loss in Alamosa. “A number of guys didn’t play well, didn’t bring it, didn’t have the mental edge we needed. I thought we responded well. We had a bounce-back mantra today. The guys bought in. A lot of these guys have been through a lot of these battles before. It’s rocky, it’s tough, it’s hard. I’m obviously proud of the way they bounced back and competed today.”
FLC had to fight back all night and never held a lead in the game. After going down 11-6 early, the Skyhawks tied the game at 17. But a cold stretch without a point for 5:42 of play saw the chance to take a lead slip away, and FLC was down 32-26 at halftime.
With 14:50 to play, the Skyhawks were within 39-37 of Regis. Little made one of his three 3s followed by two Vercellino 3s and another from Tomas Auruskevicius, and the FLC deficit was 67-51 with 6:45 remaining.
Little finished with 15 points and six rebounds. Auruskevicius had 13 points, while Toni Rocak had 11 points and Brian Dawson finished with 10 points and seven assists.
“This team has some mental toughness,” Bergeson said. “They have some experience under their belt, and that’s one of the most valuable things you can have. They’ve been hit in the mouth a lot and learned how to come back the right way. They will respond quickly in the right way through trying times.”
FLC was led by Marquel Beasley’s 15 points. Alex Semadeni had 14 points and seven rebounds. Kireed Johnson finished with 10 points. A.J. Sparks had another strong game in limited minutes with nine points and five assists, but FLC’s lack of depth at point guard once again showed.
Otas Iyekekpolor had nine points and seven rebounds for FLC. Redshirt freshman forward Brenden Boatwright finished with seven points on 2-of-2 shooting and 3-of-5 at the foul line one night after he had 28 points on 9-of-9 shooting and 10-of-11 free throws for the Skyhawks in a win against Colorado Christian.
“They packed it in, and they should be packed in because we went 6-of-25 from 3,” Pietrack said of Regis’ tough interior defense. “In some of our losses this year, we’ve been ice cold from long range. You gotta be able to make shots to loosen it up.”
Regis is four games back of Colorado School of Mines (20-3, 17-0 RMAC) in the RMAC standings and one game ahead of Black Hills State for the second seed and will look to make a consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division II South Central regional tournament.
FLC has five games to play with three at home and will aim to build momentum going into a big offseason of rebuilding.
“The biggest thing for us is to try to enjoy the journey,” Pietack said. “We will try to play our very best and really just try to enjoy competition, which is a really fun thing. I definitely think the guys are competing, no question about that. It’s a matter of playing better, and tonight Regis shot it very well and we didn’t.”