Mesa women seeking more consistent scoring by bench
A bit of a chink was exposed last weekend in the seventh-ranked Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team’s armor.
With Kelsey Sigl and Katrina Selsor in foul trouble, CMU’s offense, which had raced to a 12-point lead early, bogged down against the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.
In the first dozen games of the season, foul trouble hadn’t been an issue, but last weekend, more was asked of the bench players for longer stretches.
Add in a poor shooting night, and the Mavericks were there for the taking were it not for a couple of timely defensive plays in a 56-55 victory.
The Mavericks (14-0, 10-0 RMAC) have had a security blanket of sorts all season. Sigl, Katrina Selsor and Sharaya Selsor, who combine for 45 points a game, have played plenty of minutes this season.
It’s time, though, for the bench to start consistently pitching in.
“We were talking about our depth really showed when we got into foul trouble, so people are going to figure out: If we get their top players out, we’ll have a better chance,” junior backup post Hanna Bowden said.
“As the bench, we need to step up and be ready when we’re called into play and make plays, so there’s no letdown when our starters are out.”
CMU coach Taylor Wagner addressed the same thing after Saturday’s game.
“We need a little more production from them,” he said. “They’ve got to come in and play some, and each weekend is going to be big. I’d like to see them get a little more time than they’ve been getting.”
The Mavs regularly go only four or five players deep.
Senior guard Bruna Deichmann has been a big boost off the bench all season, averaging 10.1 points. She also plays the most minutes of the reserves, more than 20 per game.
The five players who get the most time off the bench combine for 16.7 points per game.
Bowden backs up Sigl, playing about 10 minutes a game and scoring 2.8 points and collecting 3.5 rebounds a night.
“I’m a trash player,” she said, grinning about her role of hitting the offensive glass hard.
Still, she said, she needs to be a factor in the offense more than cleaning up missed shots. Sigl, who has mentored Bowden the past three years, reminds her of that.
“What Kelsey always tells me is, ‘Be an offensive threat!’ ” Bowden said, raising her voice to mimic Sigl’s scolding tone. “I get that yelled at me a couple of times. She’s right.
“That will help take the pressure off the other players, so people have to come help off me and can’t just double-team our shooters or Kelsey in the post if we’re more of an offensive threat.”
Wagner has talked to the players who don’t get a lot of playing time about continuing to work on their game and making their case for playing time.
“The one thing I’ve told them is: ‘You see some of the best players in the conference every day in practice. You’re getting a good test every day. It’s no different when it becomes game time, you should be battle-ready,’ ” he said.
The Mavericks, who play Western State Colorado University (1-13, 1-9) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Brownson Arena, insist they aren’t feeling the pressure of being undefeated. They do realize, though, every team they play wants to be the one to end the streak.
“It definitely makes it harder,” Bowden said of Mesa’s best start in school history. “Two years ago when Fort Lewis was No. 3 in the nation, that was all we wanted to do. It was like our championship to beat them.
“That’s the same mind-set of other teams, and you don’t want to give other teams that great feeling of knocking someone out. That’s pushed us.
“Coach is good about, ‘Yeah, you’re that, but you’ve got to prove it. Prove it. Prove it.’ You can’t say, ‘Oh, we’re that,’ and just relax. You have to get better than the day before.”