Fort Lewis College had two chances to finish the game in the final 38 seconds with a 92-90 lead at Adams State University in the final game of the season. FLC head coach Bob Pietrack didn’t get what he wanted out of either opportunity.
With hope his team would wind down the shot clock out of a timeout with 38 seconds to play to shorten the game, junior forward Riley Farris took a contested shot four seconds after the ball was inbounded. It grazed off the side of the backboard and into the arms of Adams State’s Rickey Norris, who drove the length of the floor and scored a game-tying layup with 27 seconds to play.
The Skyhawks then had the ball with a chance at the final shot at the buzzer to try to win. Pietrack had point guard Logan Hokanson take the ball and wanted him to get the last shot. Hokanson would drive and pass the ball out to the wing to Corey Seng, who was whistled for traveling. The referees put five seconds on the clock, plenty of time for the speedy Grizzlies to drive to the basket to look for a winning shot.
In a timeout, Pietrack instructed his team to not allow the Grizzlies to drive to the right, but Juwan Green took an inbounds pass and dorve freely to his right to score the game-winning layup at the buzzer to give host Adams State a 94-92 win in Alamosa.
“The first one, we wanted to get the ball inbounds and take some time, but then we took a quick shot,” Pietrack said. “The next time, we wanted to make sure (Hokanson) took the last shot. He kicked it out and we turned it over. Defensively, the No. 1 thing we said was don’t let them drive right, and they went right to the right and scored.”
The win was crushing for the Skyhawks (13-15, 7-15 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference). FLC had trailed 61-45 at halftime and roared back to take the late lead behind career nights from Farris and Will Wittman. Farris had a career-high matching 36 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, while Wittman had a new career-high 24 points. Hokanson also had a brilliant bit of play with nine consecutive points to get FLC within 73-63 with 12:39 to play.
Wittman also had his own 7-0 run to tie the game at 87-87 with 3:40 to play. He added seven rebounds for FLC. Hokanson had seven assists to only one turnover. Brendan La Rose and Brenden Boatwright each had eight points off the bench.
“We just didn’t have a very good first half,” Pietrack said. “We missed shots, turned it over. We had a much better second half, it just wasn’t enough.”
Green had 25 points to lead five Adams State (8-20, 6-16 RMAC) players in double-digit scoring. Norris added 19 and 15 rebounds for a monster double-double. Kaelin Crane had 18 points.
FLC lost its final nine games of the season to miss out on the conference tournament for a second consecutive season. It was Pietrack’s fifth year with the team. In his first three seasons, FLC won two regular-season conference championships and one RMAC tournament title. FLC also made the NCAA South Central Region tournament three times and went 2-3 in NCAA tournament play. Friday night’s game was Pietrack’s last of his three-year contract.
“This has been absolutely the worst,” Pietrack said. “Everyone of those games, all nine, we have been right in the game and just didn’t get it done. We’ve got some really good pieces to work with, but we got to get a lot better. It’s been a disappointing month of February. Every single game, we had a chance to win the game.”
Dixie State, which will go to Division I next year, won the conference regular season via a tiebreaker against Black Hills State.