Mavs must control tempo against fast-paced Skyhawks

Katrina Selsor, left, Christal Barnett and the Colorado Mesa women’s basketball team know what they have to do tonight against Fort Lewis: Slow down the pace. The Mavs had success with that strategy last year against the Skyhawks.



QUICKREAD

COLORADO MESA MAVERICKS (6-2, 4-0)

Last Season: FLC 67, MSC 48; MSC 57, FLC 51; MSC 66, ASC 63; ASC 73, MSC 57; ASC 77, MSC 57 (RMAC playoffs)

Coach: Roger Walters, 3rd season (31-30, 23-22)

Probable Starters

PG: Effo Baker, 5-5 Jr. (3.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.9 apg)

G: Tara Gehring, 5-9 Sr. (11.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 43.8 3-pt.)

G: Katrina Selsor, 6-1 Jr. (10.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg)

F: Kelsey Sigl, 6-0 Jr. (19.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg)

C: Amy Weitzeil 6-1 Sr. (6.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg)

Notes: Sigl, who missed last Saturday’s game against New Mexico Highlands with a concussion, should be ready to go this weekend. Hillary Duncan is fourth on the team in scoring at 10.3 points a game off the bench and Alaina Brennan has provided a big lift in her hybrid guard/post role. Mesa is on a six-game winning streak and is 4-0 at home, but faces a big challenge in the seventh-ranked Skyhawks tonight. “They’re where everybody wants to be,” Walters said. “That’s the program everybody wants to get to. Not only are they respected in the conference, they’re respected in the nation.”

FORT LEWIS SKYHAWKS (6-1, 3-0)

Coach: Mark Kellogg, 7th season (153-42, 100-20)

Probable Starters

G: Alex Easterbrook, 5-6 Jr. (2.6 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 4.3 apg)

G: Ashley Kuchar, 5-9 Soph. (6.6 ppg, 1.3 rpg)

G/F: Mary Rose Paiz, 5-11 Sr. (6.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

F: Dana Schreibvogel, 6-0 Sr. (15.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg)

C: Jenna Santistevan, 6-0 Sr. (10.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg)

Notes: If the RMAC had a sixth-man award, Katerina Garcia would be the leading candidate. The 5-5 junior guard runs the show when she’s on the floor, averaging 6.4 points a game with 33 assists and 11 steals. She shoots 44 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free-throw line. She’s no secret to the Mavericks — she played for CMU assistant coach Mary Psenda Doane at Durango High School. Fort Lewis is fourth in the RMAC in scoring, averaging 73.6 points a game, just behind Mesa’s 73.8. The Skyhawks allow 61.6 points a game, CMU 66.2, and shoot 47 percent from the field, second to Mesa’s 47.6 percent.

ADAMS STATE GRIZZLIES (2-5, 1-2)

Coach: Kelly Kruger, 6th year (82-70, 57-34)

Probable Starters

G: Jamonica Hudgins, 5-6 Jr. (7.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg)

G: Chloe Ray, 5-6 Jr. (4.2 pgg, 1.8 rpg)

G: Marissa Peterson, 5-8 Soph. (6.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg)

G/F: Morgan Fitterer, 5-10 Fr. (5.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg)

F: Caitlin Boal, 5-10 Soph. (13.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg)

Notes: Chloe Cable, a 6-foot senior forward and the Grizzlies’ leading scorer (14.5) and rebounder (8.8), was injured during their game last week against Fort Lewis; her status is day-to-day. She played only 14 minutes against the Skyhawks, scoring four points. The Grizzlies are still trying to find a go-to perimeter player to replace Vera Jo Bustos, averaging only 60.1 points a game, but shooting 45.7 percent from the field, third in the RMAC behind Colorado Mesa and Fort Lewis.



Against certain teams, Roger Walters is OK with the Colorado Mesa University women playing run-and-shoot basketball.

Not tonight.

“We’ve got to dictate tempo against those guys,” Walters said of No. 7 Fort Lewis College, which plays the Mavericks at 5:30 tonight at Brownson Arena. Saturday at 5:30, CMU plays host to Adams State, the team that ended Mesa’s season in the RMAC tournament last winter.

“They want to get it up and down the court and get the score in the 80s. We’ve got to do what we did last year in terms of dictating tempo.”

In the Mavs’ final regular-season game last season, they pulled off a 57-51 shocker of then-No. 3 Fort Lewis at Brownson by not allowing the Skyhawks to run their transition game.

“The whole game plan is to do what we did last year,” Walters said. “The first game (at Durango) we didn’t stick to the game plan and got crushed. Second time around, we stuck to the game plan for 40 solid minutes and got it done.”

Fort Lewis (6-1, 3-0 RMAC) will press full-court for 40 minutes, but the Skyhawks don’t necessarily try to create turnovers in the press.

They want teams to use 10-15 seconds to get the ball past mid-court, then get sped up in the half-court offense and either turn it over or take a bad shot. The Skyhawks grab the ball and are off to the races.

“It’s worked really well for them; they have it down to a science,” Walters said.

To counteract the Fort Lewis defense, the Mavericks (6-2, 4-0) need to establish their own defense and turn the transition-happy Skyhawks into a half-court team.

“That will drive them crazy, just like getting into a tennis match, back and forth, will drive us crazy,” Walters said.

CMU allows teams to shoot only 35 percent from the field, and every shot is challenged. Teams shoot only 28.9 percent from the 3-point line against Mesa, riding a six-game winning streak.

“You look at the stats in the conference, we’re No. 1 in (offensive) field goal percentage. There’s a reason why; we work the ball and take great shots,” said Walters, whose team shoots 47.6 percent, 42.5 from the 3-point line, both best in the RMAC. “The good thing is, on the other hand, we’re No. 1 in field goal percentage defense. That’s the reason we’re playing as well as we are.”

He had a feeling the Mavericks would be solid defensively this season for one reason — experience.

Well, two reasons.

“Any time you have Katrina (Selsor) on the floor, you’re pretty good,” he said of the Mavs’ 6-foot-1 junior guard. “I think she’s the best defender in the conference, period. She just wreaks havoc everywhere, no matter what we’re playing.”

The Mavericks play off Selsor’s defensive prowess. She knows when to jump into a passing lane, and her long arms help her deflect passes for nearly 21⁄2 steals per game. She’s a big guard who poses matchup problems on both ends of the floor and is Mesa’s leading rebounder.

Mesa’s matchup zone packs the paint, and Amy Weitzeil has been stellar at controlling opposing teams’ post players. Kelsey Sigl, known for her offense (19.7 points per game), made a conscious effort to become a better defensive player in the offseason, and the two post players clog things up in the middle.

Hanna Bowden comes off the bench with even more strength, relentless rebounding and is a good shot-blocker.

“Amy is really solid,” Walters said. “She does so many things for us that just don’t get in the stat sheet that are so valuable. You can’t hardly take her off the floor.”

The Mavericks average 20.5 turnovers a game, but lost it only six times last Friday against Western New Mexico. They’ve stressed ball security all week.

“All you can do is put the kids in the position they’re going to be in on Friday night and hopefully make it a little bit tougher, add another defender on the court,” said Walters, whose two point guards, Effo Baker and Dallas Rohrbaugh, have never faced Fort Lewis.

“You focus on being crisp on cuts, pass fakes, going to meet the basketball, not picking it up in the places they want us to pick it up; being a little headier.”


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