The South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team did what it had to do with the 13th-ranked team in the country coming to town on Saturday.
The Hardrockers fought off a scrappy 3-10 Adams State team before rolling to the 72-58 win Friday night at the Goodell Gymnasium.
With the win, Mines moved to 6-4 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play and 11-5 overall. Adams State also fell to 1-10 in the RMAC.
“This is a hard team to prepare for,” Mines coach Ryan Larsen said. “They do a lot of things different defensively and that takes us out of our flow on offense. We never really had a great offensive flow. It is typical of how they play.
“But two things I am very proud of; they lead the league in offensive rebounding at 15 and a half and they only had six,” Larsen added. “And they turn over teams 18 times a game and we had 10. And getting stops towards the end and getting nine straight points helped a bunch too.”
Adams State led by as much as five in the first half before the Hardrockers took a nine-point lead into the locker room at halftime. Mines maintained an 8- to 10-point lead midway through the second half before the Grizzlies began to chip away.
Adams State cut the lead to three points on a couple of occasions, including 56-53 with eight minutes remaining.
Mines then found its outside game and hit three 3-pointers, one from Cooper Courtney and two straight by freshman Ryan Weiss to go back out to a comfortable double-digit lead.
Weiss, in fact, scored nine straight points for a 15-point ‘Rocker advantage.
“We had Coop and Ryan in for that reason. At some point I knew one of those two would hit a big shot for us,” Larsen said. “Taylor was also a big stud for us tonight. She did exactly what we needed her to do and attacked the basket, get to the free-throw line, and defend. She is defending out of position; we match her up with the other forward and she is doing a heck of a job.”
Junior Taylor Molstad had a workman-like effort, leading the Hardrockers with 16 points, four rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot.
“We really moved the ball well and stay composed,” Molstad said. “We fought off their intensity defense and hit some big shots at the end, so that was huge."
Weiss, with late scoring outburst, finished with 13 points, while Courtney added 12 points.
"When they are flying around like that you have to look for the open person," Molstad said. "She (Weiss) was there and knocking them down, and it really helped us build the momentum for the defensive end as well.”
Leila Hadzialijagic paced the Grizzlies with16 points, while Stephanie Ruiz and Nicole Mortensen both Scored 11 points for Adams State and Brooke Neal chipped in with 10.
The Hardrockers will host No. 13 Fort Lewis College today at 3:30 p.m. Fort Lewis came into Friday night at 15-1, but fell to Black Hills State 53-48 Friday night in Spearfish.
Molstad said the Hardrockers are just trying to focus one game at a time and keep building up wins.
“We just need to prepare a little better; our defense needs to be a little better,” she said. “We just need to play more as a team and just clean up the things that we made mistakes on today.”
Hardrocker men come up short against Grizzlies
A couple of spirited second-half rallies were not quite enough for the South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team, as the Hardrockers fell to Adams State 80-70 Friday night in Goodell Gymnasium.
Mines trailed by 11 at halftime and by as much as 13 in the second half before making it a game again. The Hardrockers cut the lead to two points with 13 minutes to play and had the ball, but could not get the equalizer.
Mines coach Jason Henry said he was proud of his team for coming back in the second half after a lackluster first half. He said said they didn't play with a lot of energy and passion, which a team needs to do when it has its back against the wall. The Hardrockers have now dropped three straight games.
"They totally changed that and came out in the second half and did a lot of good things," he said. "We won the second half. We had a layup kind of thing to get to the hump. We got there, we just couldn't get over it."
The loss dropped the Hardrockers to 3-7 in RMAC play and 6-9 overall, while Adams State moved to 7-4 and 9-8.
The Grizzlies used the quickness of guard Brandon Sly, along with Shane Johnson and Mike Thomas, to take a 39-28 halftime lead. The Adams State trio combined for 32 of the 39 first-half points.
Adams State appeared to showing signs of putting the game away early in the second half before the Hardrockers made a run, cutting the lead to just two, 51-49, with 13 minutes remaining, on 3-pointers by Troy Brady and Jake Heath and a basket by Logan Elers.
But Adams State went back to their talented trio and stayed in front the rest of the way. Five points by Johnson put the Grizzlies back up 64-55 only to see the ‘Rockers have one more tally in them.
A four-point play by Elers brought Mines back and the Hardrockers still trailed by three (66-63) with just over five minutes to play.
Again, they could get no closer. Jarrett Givens hit a 3-pointer to put the Grizzlies up 73-63 with 3:10 remaining and Adams State held on for the win.
The Hardrockers got a big game from Elers, who led the way with 20 points, five rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot. Brian Orr chipped in with 15 points.
Adam State had five players score in double figures, led by Johnson and sly with 20 points each, followed by Frederick Jackson with 13 points, Thomas with 12 and Givens with 10.
"They have won a lot of close games. They are in the top eight of the conference," Henry said. "They have a very good point guard and you saw what their two guard can do. Then you get those long guys ... they are a matchup nightmare. They change things around the basket and we just have to a do a better job next time."
The Hardrockers host No. 21 Fort Lewis today at 5:30 p.m. The Skyhawks were upset Friday night by Black Hills State 67-64.
To be competitive against Fort Lewis, Henry said they have to play like they did in the second half on Friday night.
"We have to play at a different level than what we did in the first half," he said. "We have to have some confidence. We're playing the top team in the conference on our home court and that doesn't happen very often. We're excited about the challenge, and our guys will be ready for it."