Triple the fun
Good 3-point shooting helps Mavs run past Chadron
Jaylyn Duran has been waiting for her shot to fall all season. So has Taylor Wagner.
Friday night, it started to fall against Chadron State’s zone defense.
“Finally,” the sophomore grinned after she hit five of nine 3-point attempts for 15 points in the Colorado Mesa women’s basketball team’s 82-56 victory at Brownson Arena. “I think we kind of got into that rhythm, ‘Oh, she’s shooting good? I’m going to shoot good.’ ‘’
As a team, the Mavericks (9-3, 6-2 RMAC) hit 13 shots from beyond the 3-point line, and in the third quarter shot 50 percent from there to stretch a nine-point halftime lead to 20.
“I’ve been waiting for that all year,” Wagner said of Duran’s breakout game. “She hit some shots and at times against that zone we looked good, moved the ball well. We’ve got to have it both nights, great offense and great defense.”
Bryanna Adams led CMU with 20 points, with only six of those coming from long range. Instead, she attacked the basket in transition with the Mavericks limiting Chadron State (3-9, 3-6) to only one shot and then getting out on the run.
“Our running game was real strong today. We were pushing it because we knew they were in a zone so they would be running to a spot, not a player, and getting an open lane,” Duran said.
Erin Reichle added 13 points, finally getting some perimeter shots to fall.
The emphasis Mesa placed on defense in practice this week started to pay off, although Wagner would like to see tougher field goal defense. Chadron State shot slightly better from the field, 41.2 percent, than Mesa’s 40.8 percent.
The big difference was Mesa’s efficiency in transition and from the perimeter — the Eagles made only two 3-pointers in 11 attempts. Those 13 3-pointers, the most CMU has made in a game all season, came on 41 attempts against the zone.
“They still shot 41 percent for the game and we’ve got to get that down,” Wagner said. “We rebounded well, we got good looks, there were times we hit shots, turnovers, at times in each half we turned it over way too much against the zone. We just can’t have those. That shooting percentage, I’d like to see that go down. What if that’s the game you don’t shoot 40 percent or better?”
Another point of emphasis has been getting out to a quicker start, and the Mavericks certainly did that in the first and third quarters. A nine-point spurt broke an early 2-2 tie with Mesa scoring inside and outside. The offense bogged down in the second quarter, as did the defense, and Chadron cut it to 39-30 at the half.
The third quarter, though, was all CMU, again sparked by defense. Steals by Adams and Sydney Small led to runout baskets, Adams found open space for 3s in the corners, stepped through a screen for a steal and layup. Midway through the quarter, the Mavs were up 55-38.
Holly Brooks hit a pair of 3s, one just before the third quarter ended after a terrific hustle play by Tori Catlett.
The freshman logged some good minutes in the first half when Khadijah Vigil got into early foul trouble, and as the lead grew, got even more in the second half.
After Duran missed a 3-pointer, Catlett tipped the ball and ran it down to keep possession with 13 seconds left in the quarter. Reichle missed a 3, but Kelli Van Tassel, whose minutes have also gone up recently, latched onto the offensive rebound. Catlett found Reichle, who in turn hit Brooks with a pass in the corner for an open 3 just before the horn, giving CMU a 68-45 lead.
“I’m more comfortable out there playing with the girls and stepping up to the opportunity when it comes and contributing when I need to contribute, rebounding and finding the open player and making the shot when it needs to be made,” Catlett said, laughing that the first year of college basketball is almost a case of relearning the game she’s played since third grade.
Catlett had two offensive rebounds early in the fourth quarter on one series, and after the second, Duran buried another corner 3.
Mesa got 41 points from the bench, with Vigil scoring eight points and grabbing nine rebounds, and Brooks adding nine points on three 3-pointers. The Mavs scored 23 points off 20 offensive rebounds, with another 27 coming off Chadron’s 18 turnovers.
“That’s the most (3-pointers) we’ve made all year, I think,” Wagner said. “We need it. We have nine home games (including Friday’s) versus six (on the road). We need to play well, shoot well and defend well and have a shot at the end and sneak into the NCAA tournament. That’s the goal.”