The number one-seeded Fort Lewis College Skyhawks defeated the number four-seeded Adams State University Grizzlies by a score of 87-74 on Friday night in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament semifinals to advance to the championship game against the Regis University Rangers tonight at 7:05 p.m.
FLC will be facing the number two seeded Rangers who have won 13 consecutive games and are led by RMAC Defensive Player of the Year and All-RMAC first teamer Dexter Sienko, as well as two All-RMAC second teamers in Jarrett Brodbeck and Christian Little.
Two-seeded Regis defeated the number three-seeded Colorado School of Mines Orediggers 89-83 Friday night in their semifinal matchup and are seeking out their first RMAC Championship title in program history.
“They are tale nted at every position and they are very deep and just a darn good team,” Bob Pietrack, FLC head coach, said. “There’s a reason why a 24-5 Fort Lewis team is playing a 25-5 Regis team.”
This is Pietrack’s third year as FLC’s head coach and this is FLC’s third straight year in the title game.
They hope to reclaim the championship after losing to Mines in overtime last year, 102-98, and winning it two years ago.
FLC has won both matchups against Regis this season, but have not played them since January 19th where they won by just two, 85-83.
Against Adams, FLC split their two matchups this season which is why protecting the home court was so important in this one, Rasmus Bach, senior forward and All-RMAC first teamer, said.
The Grizzlies had scored 107 and 96 in the prior two meetings against the Skyhawks.
In this one, FLC came back from a 47-44 deficit after the first half to outscore ASU by 16 points in the second half and FLC also only allowed 27 after halftime to help put the game away. The Grizzlies are usually high-scoring, averaging 82.7 points per game.
“I felt the second half defensively, considering the opponent, was the best second half that we’ve had,” Pietrack said.
Adams State’s Brandon Sly had a game-high 25 points and shot 6/12, 50 percent from three-point range. Shane Johnson put up 17 points for the Grizzlies.
“We came into the locker room and we knew if we could just play a little better defense, not give up 45-50, this game was going to be ours,” Bach said. “We had a good game plan all week and I think in the second half we just did a better job of executing that game plan, especially on Sly, he’s one of the quickest guards I’ve ever played against, great player, great shooter, and we limited him in the second half which was key.”
Sly was kept to only 8 in the second half after having 17 in the first.
Bach had a team-high 20 points and was 8/8 from the free throw line. Senior center Brandon Wilson also chipped in with 17 points off of 8/11 shooting and 6 rebounds before fouling out with less than two minutes to play.
The Skyhawks also scored 26 points off of ASU’s 18 turnovers.
“Very balanced attack for us which is when we’re at our best, we had five guys in double figures and then Semadeni with eight,” Pietrack said. “When we’re spread across the board like that that’s when we’re playing Fort Lewis basketball and we’re at our best.”
The FLC win ends the season for ASU who finished with an overall record of 17-13 and a 14-8 conference record.
The RMAC Championship game is set to tip off at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, March 3rd at Whalen Gymnasium and can be viewed on CET XFINITY Channels 105 and 900 and on the RMAC Network.