The Mines’ men’s basketball team ended their season last Monday, but not before making school history one last time. Already breaking the single season record for wins, the Orediggers held on for a 62-59 win over Adams State in the opening round of the Division II NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, earning the school’s first ever victory in the Division II form of March Madness.
Adams State had their chances late with an opportunity to tie the game twice in the final 15 seconds. But Junior Gordon Galloway blocked Robby Hanzlik’s three point attempt with 13 seconds left and after Brett Green gathered in the loose ball and finished at the other end to put, Mines was ahead by five. With one second remaining, the Grizzlies pulled to within three once again, but their desperation three point attempt missed at the buzzer.
Similar to last year’s opening round game, in which Mines relinquished an 11 point lead in a loss to top-seeded Minnesota State Mankato, the Orediggers methodically built a 10 point cushion over the Grizzlies to take a 28-18 point halftime advantage. But unlike last year, Mines was able to stave off the Adams State rally and hold on for the three point win.
Mines was once again led by balanced scoring as three players ended the game in double figures. RMAC Player of the Year Sean Armstrong finished with a team high 14 points, Galloway finished with 13 and Dale Minschwaner added 12. Senior Drew Hoffman scored seven, Green and Chris Goutama each added six, and Nico Mucci and Trevor Wages finished with two points each to round out the scoring.
The 18 point total was the lowest allowed by the Orediggers all season, an unusual defensive stand for a team that is no stranger to high-scoring contests. The victory brought the season’s win total to 26, setting a new school record for wins in a season. It was the fourth time Mines had squared off against the Grizzlies this season and the third in the previous seven games.
After defeating Adams State in the first round, Mines faced second-seeded Fort Lewis. The game was closer than the final score indicated, as the two teams traded leads multiple times before Fort Lewis pulled away for a 77-65 victory.
Mines had faced Fort Lewis the previous week when they fell to the Skyhawks in the RMAC Shootout championship game 72-67. And just like that game, Mines once again fell behind early, trailing 15-4 just five minutes in. The Orediggers rallied a couple of times, and even led by two at halftime, but were unable to recover from a 14-2 Fort Lewis run in the second half and fell to the Skyhawks for the second straight game.
In their final game as Orediggers, seniors Armstrong and Hoffman led Mines in scoring. Armstrong led all scorers with 19 and Hoffman added 16.
2010-2011 was one of the most successful seasons for a men’s basketball team at Mines. Mines set a new record in wins with 26, reached the NCAA tournament for the second time, won their first ever NCAA tournament game and were proud owners of the RMAC Coach of the Year in Pryor Orser and Player of the Year in Armstrong.
The RMAC sent a total of five teams to the NCAA tournament and all were placed in the Midwest Region. None of those teams reached further than the third round, and Fort Lewis advanced the farthest, losing to top-seeded Minnesota State Mankato in the round of sixteen.