Colorado Mesa falls to Dixie in Tip-Off tourney
One night after a successful home opener, the character of Colorado Mesa men’s basketball team was tested.
Although the Mavericks ended up losing 67-63 to Dixie State (Utah) College on Saturday night at Brownson Arena, they passed the test.
Colorado Mesa (2-2) showed grit and determination, rallying from a 22-point deficit to get within a basket in the final minute of the Clarion Inn Thanksgiving Tip-Off.
“Any time you are down 22, you’ve got to play an almost perfect game to give yourself a chance,” Colorado Mesa coach Jim Heaps said. “I told them all you can ask for is to get to that last minute with a chance.
“We had a few chances to tie, but we didn’t execute when we needed to in that last minute. It wasn’t that we didn’t execute, really. It just didn’t fall for us.”
Mesa redshirt freshman Mike Melillo hit a bank shot with 41 seconds left to get the Mavs within two, 65-63.
Mesa’s Jeff Hart was fouled while boxing out for a rebound, but Hart missed the free throws.
Mesa had another opportunity after a defensive stop, but Shawn King’s jumper was partially blocked. Dixie’s Solomon Jensen grabbed the rebound, was immediately fouled and hit both free throws to seal the victory.
“I thought if I drive, get into the lane, maybe I could get an easy shot or dump it off,” King said. “It just didn’t go for me. I probably could’ve kicked it to Mike Melillo in the corner for a jump shot. I had an opportunity. I took it, but it didn’t fall.”
King provided a lift off the bench for the Mavericks for the second consecutive night, scoring 14 of his 16 points in the second half. Colton Burgon added 10 off the bench, including nine in the second half.
“We wanted the ball in Shawn’s hands,” Heaps said. “He had a heck of a second half. We thought he could penetrate. He had a chance. The (Dixie) kid made a hell of a defensive play.”
Dixie State (3-2) came out hungry for a win after a loss Friday to CSU-Pueblo. The Red Storm built a 17-8 lead in the first eight minutes of the game, hitting shots that didn’t fall the previous night and flustering Colorado Mesa on defense.
The Red Storm led 19-13 with 12:15 left and only allowed three free throws until 27 seconds remained in the first half when King scored in the paint. Dixie led 40-18 at halftime.
“At halftime, I said, ‘Guys, these guys aren’t going to lay down,’ ” Dixie coach Jon Judkins said. “They’re going to come back and play and they sure did.
“I thought Coach Heaps did a great job making adjustments and hurt us. I thought (King) brought a lot of energy off the bench. It was fun to be in a game situation like that.”
Mesa opened the second half on a 12-3 run to cut the lead to 13. A few minutes later, the Mavs scored on six consecutive possessions to cut to 10 with 8:38 left, bringing the crowd to its feet.
“We knew we had a chance to get back in the game,” Colton Burgon said. “We had to take it one possession at a time and work on defense. We chipped away, but we missed some shots.”
Michael Bear led Mesa with 19 points.
CSU-Pueblo 72, Southern Virginia 70: Ty Trahern scored a layup with 17 seconds left in regulation to lift the ThunderWolves.
Southern Virginia had a chance to win it, but missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
CSU-Pueblo (3-1) got off to a quick start, leading by as many as 18 points with 6:32 left in the first half and 12 at halftime.
The Knights (3-6) cut the deficit to single digits seven minutes into the second half and briefly took the lead with 3:58 left in the game before Pueblo persevered.
Arden Dennis led the ThunderWolves with 19 points and eight rebounds. Trahern had 14, Ryan Arel 13 and AJ Kapanoske added 11.
Casey Nye led Southern Virginia with 17 points.