Courier Sports Editor
ALAMOSA—The Adams State University men’s and women’s basketball teams will return home this weekend for the first time in nearly a month to face the Western New Mexico Mustangs and New Mexico Highlands Cowboys/Cowgirls on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Doubleheaders are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. with the women and 8 p.m. with the men.
Since Dec. 17 when both teams competed against Colorado Mesa, the two teams have also competed in two more Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference games. The men have also competed in a non-conference match up with in-state Division I Colorado State University Rams.
The men have been moving up in several ways, including up in the NABC/Division II Top 25 Basketball rankings where the Grizzlies made their first-ever debut at No. 18. After falling 80-55 to the Rams, the Grizzlies returned on their conference winning streak and defeated Black Hills State, 80-66, and Chadron State, 86-65, this past weekend.
The Grizzlies are one of three RMAC teams that are currently ranked. The Metro State Roadrunners, who the Grizzlies are tied atop the RMAC standings with, is sitting at No. 2. The Fort Lewis Skyhawks, a team Adams State defeated, 82-76, in December, is sitting at No. 25.
ASU’s offense and defense are both third in the conference. The Grizzlies are giving up 71.4 points per game.
The Grizzlies enter the weekend without their top scorer in James Lake. Lake suffered an injury in the first half of ASU’s game in Fort Collins when they played the Rams. He has yet to play in a game after his injury and according to Head Coach Louis Wilson, it is unknown how long he will be out.
Lake, who averaged 15 points per game, scored 120 total points over his eight games he played.
Entering this weekend, the Grizzlies will be led by Senior Kaimyn Pruitt who is averaging 14.4 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Pruitt dominated the game against Black Hills State, scoring 22 and pulling down 13 boards. The next night against Chadron State, he followed up his season best performance with 21 points and five rebounds. The game against the Eagles is the only game so far this season that Pruitt has not scored a double-double.
Pruitt’s 12.3 rebounds per game rank him third in the nation and first in the RMAC in rebounding.
Junior Norvell Arnold has also been strong as of late for the Grizzlies averaging 13.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game on the season.
Because of the several injuries that the Grizzlies are dealing with, Adams State is looking for their deep bench to step up and contribute. So far, that has not seemed to be a problem.
Tyler McDaniels, who is averaging 3.6 points and 1.4 rebounds per game, and Justin Kauffman, who is averaging 7.8 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game, have made significant contributions off the bench.
Western New Mexico comes in with a 4-8 (3-5 RMAC) record but has played several close games. In fact, four of their eight losses have come by just a combined 13 points. ASU will look to slow down senior Chad Carter, who leads the Mustangs with 15.3 points per game. Carter is also averaging five rebounds per game and has 23 steals on the season.
New Mexico Highlands enters the weekend with a 5-7 (3-5 RMAC) mark. The Cowboys feature a more balanced offensive attack, with three of their players averaging points in double digits. New Mexico Highlands averages 81.8 points per game, ranking them second in the RMAC.
The women, who enter the weekend with a 4-7 (1-6 RMAC) record, lost both of this weekend’s games. They fell 61-38 to the Yellowjackets and 85-76 to the Eagles.
During Saturday’s game, the Grizzlies shot a season-best 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from 3-point land where their eight treys equaled a season-high. The Grizzlies had a season-high 12 steals in Friday’s game at Black Hills State and then followed that up with 10 more against Chadron State.
This Friday, the Grizzlies will next play Western New Mexico, a team they have defeated ten straight and 11 of the last 12 times since the Mustangs re-joined the RMAC in 2006-07, which was also Head Coach Kelly Kruger’s first-season with the Grizzlies.
ASU is led by Keyondra White, who has scored 124 points in 11 games (11.3 ppg) while gathering 49 (4.5 rpg) rebounds per game. She has connected on 15-of-39 (38.5 percent) 3-pointers.
Western New Mexico enters the weekend with a 1-11 overall (0-8 RMAC) record while New Mexico Highlands sports a 3-9 overall (3-5 RMAC) record.
Including this weekend’s games, 10 of the team’s next 14 games will be held at Plachy Hall.