Saturday, December 11, 2010

No. 3 Fort Lewis tops ASC in battle of RMAC favorites

Loch leads Grizzlies with 17 points but Skyhawks pull away late

DURANGO, Colo. - Senior Crystal Loch (Alamosa, Colo.) led the way for the Grizzlies, scoring a career-high 17 points and hitting three 3-pointers, but in a battle of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference's (RMAC) preseason favorites, No. 3-ranked Fort Lewis topped Adams State, 77-70.

The Grizzlies, picked first in the RMAC preseason poll with 25 points, fall to 6-3 overall and 1-2 in league play with the loss while the Skyhawks, picked for second in the poll with 29 points, improve to 8-0 this season and sport a mark of 3-0 in conference. Both teams garnered six first-place votes in the preseason poll of the league's coaches.

ASC got off to a hot start, scoring the game's first seven points when senior Vera Jo Bustos (Las Vegas, N.M.) hit her first shot of the game, a 3-pointer, and junior Kelsie Kruger (Alamosa, Colo.) connected on a pair of early layups, putting the Grizzlies up 7-0 with 15 minutes and 18 seconds left in the half.

Dana Schreibvogel, the RMAC's leading scorer, finally put the home team on the board just over five minutes into the night's action, and the score would stay within five points for the remainder of the half.

The Skyhawks grabbed their first lead of the game with 8:16 before the break as Schreibvogel hit a 3-pointer out of the media timeout, giving Fort Lewis a 17-16 advantage. The junior scored 10 of her game-high 19 points in the first half.

Adams State would trail by as many as five with under five minutes to go in the first, but a 10-4 run over the final 4:36 which included six of sophomore Jamonica Hudgins' nine points in the game allowed the Grizzlies a 32-21 lead at the break.

Fort Lewis and Adams State continued to trade punches through the second half. Abby Jackson, who put up 14 points in the game, put the Skyhawks back on top by two with a triple to start the scoring after the intermission, but that was answered by a Kruger jumper to bring the score back even.

The score would get knotted up four more times and no lead would expand past four points until less than seven minutes remained in the game.

Senior Ruchelle McCracken (Frankston, Victoria, Australia), who equaled her season-high with six points in the game while making her third career start, tied the game at 50-50 with 9:26 remaining. A pair of made free throws from senior Kendra Coveal (Albuquerque, N.M.) was then matched by an Andrea Owens jumper, but was followed by a 5-0 ASC run that included a Loch 3-pointer and another pair of free throws from Coveal.

But trailing 57-52 with 6:26 to play, Fort Lewis regained control. With help from the Grizzlies, the Skyhawks went on a 10-0 run that included six made free throws, and found themselves with a five-point advantage, 62-57, with 3:48 left on the clock.

That advantage would grow to as high as 10 points with just 1:11 to play (71-61). But the fight wasn't out of the Grizzlies, as Bustos hit a triple with 48 seconds remaining and Loch hit two 3-pointers within the final 38 seconds, but Fort Lewis hit 5-of-6 free throws during the final minute of play to hold Adams State at bay.

Coveal hit all four of her attempts from the charity stripe and equaled her season-best by scoring 14 points for the third consecutive game, and Bustos put in 14 as well while going 3-of-8 from beyond the arc and hitting 3-of-4 free throws.

The Grizzlies shot 50.9 percent (28-55) Saturday night while the Skyhawks shot 46.4 percent (26-56). The Grizzlies also shot 6-of-14 from 3-point range (42.9 percent), with all of their connections from long range coming from Bustos and Loch.

Adams State held a slight 31-30 advantage on the glass, as Coveal and Hudgins each grabbed a game-high seven caroms.

But the Skyhawks used pressure to top the Grizzlies, recording 15 steals in the contest and forcing 23 total turnovers while committing just 17 of their own. Fort Lewis also managed to get to the free throw line often, earning 27 attempts and hitting 20 of them.

Before getting time off for the holiday break, the Grizzlies will return to Plachy Hall next Sunday and Monday for a pair of RMAC match-ups with Western State and Mesa State.

ASC will square off with the archrival Mountaineers at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19. The Mountaineers wil enter the game with a 5-3 overall record and a mark of 3-1 in RMAC play. Western State fell to New Mexico Highlands on Friday night, 81-72, but rebounded with an 83-41 win over Western New Mexico on Saturday.

The Grizlzies will then meet up with Mesa State at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 20, for their last game of the 2010 portion of their schedule. The Mavericks, 6-2 this year and 3-1 in league play, won both of their games this weekend, topping Western New Mexico by a 76-54 tally on Friday and defeating New Mexico Highlands 77-73 Saturday night.

Fans who can't make the trip to Plachy hall for the Sunday and Monday games can catch all the action via live stats by clicking here, via live broadcast at, or by watching live via AmericaOne (formerly B2 TV). More information regarding single-game and season viewing passes can be found here.

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