First-half lapses cost Mesa in loss to Rangers

DENVER — It wasn’t that the final shot Saturday didn’t fall for the Colorado Mesa University men’s basketball team.

No, CMU coach Jim Heaps said, that was far from the reason the Mavericks were upset 60-58 by Regis University in their final game of 2011.

“I thought we lost it in the first half,” Heaps said after praising the Rangers for executing their game plan not just in crunch time, but throughout the game, to pick up their first RMAC win of the season.

“We got a little bit of a lead and we got really selfish, one pass and shooting it when we have an advantage in the post. I think there were three, four possessions we shoot 3s after one or two passes and it looked like a real selfish half of basketball.”

The Mavericks were fine early, going inside to Michael Bear and Colton Burgon, but Regis’ Breen Weeks knocked down a couple of 3s and a tip-in by Slobodan Jovanovic tied it at 10-10.

After Shawn King scored on two drives to the basket for the Mavericks (7-5, 5-3 RMAC), it was Lance Korell’s turn to hit perimeter shots.

All of a sudden, the Rangers (4-7, 1-6) were feeling it and the Mavericks were trying to score too quickly to keep up.

A steal and coast-to-coast layup by Mike Melillo and a runner by Kevin Screen, who got a nice screen from Chandler Burgon, made it a one-point game early in the second half.

Regis, though, behind Korell’s 15 points, 14 from Jon Conley inside and 10 more from Weeks before he fouled out, refused to give up the lead.

“These are college teams. Those guys are all good basketball players, they don’t give a darn what their record is or anything else,” Heaps said. “They fully expected to win and they showed up and executed and did what they needed to do, especially the last 20 minutes. They did a great job hitting tough shots and getting the win.”

Down 56-47 after seven straight Regis points, Jeff Hart drove from the wing for a layup and then buried a 3 on an inbounds play to cut it to four, 56-52, with 1:25 left.

After a Regis free throw, Bear hit back-to-back jump hooks, the second pulling the Mavs within one, 57-56, with 1:01 left.

Nate Nelson was called for a foul trying for a steal, and Dionte Goodlett hit two free throws. Hart scored on an offensive rebound and the Mavs had Regis trapped in the corner nearing a five-second count, but Regis called timeout just in time, with 31.4 seconds left.

One more free throw from Goodlett gave the Rangers a 60-58 lead and the Mavs had 24 seconds to try to force overtime.

With three seconds to play, after two timeouts with 6.1 seconds left, Melillo’s baseline jumper was short and Regis chased down the rebound at the buzzer.

Bear had 16 points to lead the Mavericks, Colton Burgon had 12 before fouling out and Hart added 11.

Heaps said the Mavericks weren’t ready to play after an emotional game against top-ranked Metro State on Friday.

“You could tell. We missed free throws. We missed layups, I don’t know how many bunnies we missed,” he said. “That’s an indicator you’re not mentally focused and prepared for the game at hand.”

The Mavericks have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, and Heaps told them to do some soul-searching on the bus ride home.

“Sometime between now and when we practice again, figure out what we’re going to be,” he said. “If we’re going to be an also-ran, that’s where we’re heading in a hurry. Or are we going to be a team that’s going to compete for championships?”


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