New Mexico Highlands cleared the first hurdle in its quest for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference men’s basketball championship on Tuesday night, topping host Fort Lewis 90-80.
The RMAC Shootout quarterfinal victory propels NMHU into Friday’s semifinals — vs. Colorado Christian at 5:30 p.m. — as the tournament shifts to the Colorado State Fair Events Center in Pueblo, Colo. Colorado State-Pueblo will play Metro State in the other semifinal. The title game will take place 5 p.m. Saturday.
Roman Andrade led all scorers with 31 points to go with six assists, four rebounds and two steals. Chris Dunn had 18 points and nine boards. Former Pojoaque star Ryan Gonzales came off the bench to score 12; Rashad Peterson had 11; and Chop Tang narrowly missed a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Andrade scored 15 in the first half, allowing the Cowboys (19-9) to take a modest 41-38 lead at the break.
Mindaugas Markevicius opened the contest with a three-pointer, and the Cowboys kept rolling, eventually extending the margin to 18-12 on a Gonzales trey. The Skyhawks responded with a 13-3 run, going in front 25-21 after a three-ball by David Kanyinda.
Peterson and Andrade hit from long range, and Dunn and Markevicius also scored as the Cowboys regained control by halftime.
Another FLC run opened the second half, and the Skyhawks took a 50-46 edge. Gonzales canned another three and later tied the game at 53 with a layup.
A dunk by Deandre Lansdowne put the Skyhawks up 60-59, but Peterson struck back with a bucket to begin a 14-0 surge for the Cowboys.
Kanyinda ended the run with a three-pointer and Fort Lewis closed to within 73-67. But FLC couldn’t sustain the momentum; Dunn’s foul shot with 3:30 left gave Highlands a 79-69 lead.
Lansdowne sank a three with 1:11 left to draw within 85-78. Then Tang and Ledreece Smith each hit free throws to provide the visitors some insurance.
Note: West Las Vegas’ Vera Jo Bustos had four points and eight rebounds in Adams State’s 70-61 loss to CSU-Pueblo on Tuesday.