Grizzlies spook Air Force

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By The Staff

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The Adams State College women's basketball team remained close until the bitter end but ultimately succumbed to some strong free-throw shooting from the NCAA Division I United States Air Force Academy Falcons in  a 65-59 win over the scrappy Division II Grizzlies, Tuesday night here in Clune Arena.

ASC’s Vera Jo Bustos, a native of Las Vegas and graduate of West Las Vegas High, scored 12 points to move into fifth place on the school’s career scoring list since its move to D-II in 1992.

The Falcons, ahead 33-25 at the intermission, never led by more than nine points throughout the second half but hit 9 of 10 free throws in the final four minutes to ice the win, their first in three tries this young season.

Air Force junior guard Raimee Beck scored 15 points while grabbing 11 rebounds to record just her second career double-double.  She also had six assists and was a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe while leading the Falcons to a 23-for-31 (74.2 percent) effort throughout.

She never left the floor and has played all but four of the Falcons' 120 total minutes thus far in the campaign.

The Grizzlies, playing their season-opener, were whistled for 20 overall fouls, including five in the final 3:12, but did come up with 16 steals, the most since recording the same number on Jan. 12, 2006 at Chadron State, while forcing 22 total Falcon turnovers.

However, they got to the free throw line just 10 times and were held to a 36.4 percent shooting effort from the field as the Falcons withstood a fine game-high 17-point effort from Grizzly junior Kendra Coveal (Albuquerque), who also grabbed six rebounds, including a game-high five offensive.

The Grizzlies also received 12 points from junior guard Bustos and a 9-point, 9-rebound effort from sophomore forward Kelsie Kruger, playing her first regular season game in 20-plus months.

Bustos scored a Division II single-season school record 502 points last year, giving her 853 at the mid-point of her career.  She is just seven points shy of former teammate Laurel Mortensen, now fourth on the Division II era career-scoring charts at 872.

Despite recording a 14-11 edge in offensive rebounds on Tuesday, the

Grizzlies were out-boarded 40-33 overall as the deeper Falcons used a

big 27-11 edge in bench points en-route to the win.  6-foot freshman

forward Katie Hilbig was a large part of that part of that part of the

game as she scored 12 points on a 5-for-6 shooting effort in 17 reserve


The Falcons finished the night shooting 45.2 percent (19-42) from the

field and were an even more impressive 12-for-22 (54.5 percent) in the

first half.

The Grizzlies got off to a good start and led 9-4 on a Bustos 3-pointer

nearly four minutes in before a 10-2 Falcon run over the next three

minutes put the Falcons on top 14-11.

The Grizzlies would battle back to take a 15-14 lead on a Ruchelle

McCracken (Frankston, Victoria, Australia) bucket that followed a Coveal

steal but then gave up a big 15-2 run to the Falcons who built a 29-17

lead, their largest of the night, on a Hilbig basket with 5:18 to go in

the first half.

Clawing to within 33-25 by the break, the Grizzlies then started the

second half on a 9-2 spurt as two Coveal free throws put the Grizzlies

within 35-34 with 15:37 to go before a Beck 3-pointer, her lone success

on seven attempts, extended the Falcons lead back to four points.

The margin then gradually grew to nine points before 3-pointers by

Bustos and junior transfer Paige Ricker (Colorado Springs, Colo.) hit

3-pointers on back-to-back possessions pulling the Grizzlies within

three (51-48) with eight minutes to go.

The Grizzlies would get to within two when Coveal hit one of two free

throws but never got any closer as the Falcons did just enough at the

line to close out the 6-point win.

The Grizzlies, who have now played three total Mountain West Conference

foes including Wyoming and Colorado State in exhibition play, now return

home to face NAIA independent Northern New Mexico on Friday and NCAA

Division II and Heartland Conference member Oklahoma Panhandle State on

Saturday in this weekend's Adams State Bankers Classic in Plachy Hall.

Both games begin at 6 p.m. and can be heard live on KSPK-FM (104.1 in

Alamosa) and via the internet at www.kspk.com .

UC-Colorado Springs will also participate in the tournament and will

play the same opponents on opposite days at 1 p.m.