Burgon nets 26 in Mavs’ win

In a five-minute stretch of the second half Friday night, Chadron State couldn’t stop Colton Burgon.

The Eagles also couldn’t help but foul the Colorado Mesa University big man, and he converted four straight three-point plays in the Mavericks’ 77-62 RMAC men’s basketball opening victory in Chadron, Neb.

Burgon finished with a season-high 26 points, one off his career high, and a half-dozen rebounds. That 12-point second-half bonus binge pushed the Mavericks’ lead from one, 36-35, to eight, 52-44, when he hit a short jumper and was fouled, converting the free throw.

“He was just great tonight, probably as good a game as I’ve seen him play at Mesa, and he’s had a lot of good ones,” CMU associate head coach Andy Shantz said. “He stepped up and hit four and-ones, was an absolute man tonight.”

Add in 13 points from Jeff Hart and 11 from Mike Melillo, and the Mavericks (4-1, 1-0 RMAC) had the balance they needed to get their first conference road win after going 2-9 away from Brownson last season. Mesa also has one neutral-court victory.

“Last year on the road we let some of those games like that slip away,” Shantz said. “I think we were tied 44-44 and Colton got it going. The kids recognized we had a mismatch and kept feeding him.”

Hart hit a jumper to break the tie and Burgon added two three-point plays. Hart was fouled with 10:44 to play and made one free throw but missed the second. Shawn King grabbed the offensive rebound and got the ball to Melillo, who found Hart for a jumper. Right after that, Daniel Estes got a steal and Melillo hit a layup off the break.

“This team will be patient enough to go through the post but the other thing this team does well is run the floor,” Shantz said. “They get out on the break and finish on the other end. The last couple of years we’ve had good teams but we haven’t been able to do that.

“That helps over the course of the game to get a couple of easy baskets instead of having to grind every possession.”

Melillo’s fast-break layup made it 57-44 and the Mavericks built the lead to 16 with just less than five minutes to play on a jumper in the lane by Burgon.

Zac Bargen scored 22 points for Chadron (0-5, 0-1).

The Mavericks shot nearly 58 percent from the field in the second half and 50.8 percent for the game. They had assists on half of their field goals.

“Our better teams pass well, and even more important is if you get a team that has a willingness to pass,” Shantz said. “These guys do. You see it on the road and in practice, they don’t care who gets the credit. They’re focused on winning games.”


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