Adams State clips Fort Lewis in OT
DURANGO, Colo. -- Eighth-seeded Adams State rallied from as many as 12 down in the second half to knock off top-seeded and fifth-ranked Fort Lewis College 77-66 in overtime Friday night in the opening round of the Central Region in the NCAA Tournament.
The Grizzlies, who set a new Division II era school record for victories with Friday's historic win, improved to 22-9 overall after winning their first ever NCAA tournament game. The host Skyhawks, who advanced to the NCAA Division II title game in 2010, finished the season with a 28-3 record.
The win marked the Grizzlies' first victory over the Skyhawks in nine tries.
The Skyhawks raced out to an 8-0 lead to open the night's action before senior Kendra Coveal put the Grizzlies on the board nearly six and a half minutes into the game. That bucket sparked a 10-2 ASC run capped by a three-point play by senior Crystal Loch that tied the game at 10-all.
FLC, however, responded with a trey that put the Skyhawks back on top, a position they would not relinquish the remainder of the half, heading into the intermission leading 33-22. The Skyhawks forced ASC into 11 turnovers, many of which they converted into points at the other end.
Full-court pressure from the Skyhawks also limited the Grizzlies to just 27.3 percent shooting in the opening stanza on 6 of 22 from the floor.
FLC retained the upper hand until a pair of Vera Jo Bustos free throws put the Grizzlies up 50-49 with 9:01 to go. That sparked a back-and-forth battle, largely defensive, in the last 5 minutes of regulation. Neither team was able to build more than a four-point advantage before the clock ran out, pushing the game to extra minutes.
The Grizzlies scored the first six points of the overtime period to build their largest lead of the night at 67-61, forcing the Skyhawks to call timeout with 2:54 left in the extra stanza. Junior Kelsie Kruger scored the first four and fed Coveal for the third consecutive basket.
The Skyhawks broke their drought on a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession, drawing the fifth personal foul on Loch, who finished the night with three points and a pair of assists.
Senior Ruchelle McCracken, a 55.6 percent free-throw shooter on the season, then knocked down four big free throws for the Grizzlies to maintain their six-point cushion amid a flurry of Skyhawk activity.
All told, the Grizzlies converted on 6 of 8 free throws in the final minute of overtime and cleaned up on the defensive glass to seal the win.
Bustos, the Grizzlies' all-time leading scorer, led all players with 31 points, including 25 in the second half alone, while hitting 13-of-13 free throws and 4-of-8 triples in the game. Kruger added 17 before fouling out in the overtime period, while Coveal chimed in with a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double, her 11th of the season.
The Skyhawks had three players in double figures, led by senior Abby Jackson's 19 points. Mary Rose Paiz added 15, while Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Player of the Year Dana Schreibvogel went 5-for-13 from the floor and ended the night with 13 points.