Mesa men want to end road struggles
Little things can make all the difference, especially on the road.
The Colorado Mesa University men’s basketball team is finding that out this season.
The Mavericks have lost four of their five road games this season by a combined six points.
In three of those games, Mesa (8-7, 6-5 RMAC) lost by one or two points.
“We’re all really frustrated,” Mesa senior forward Michael Bear said. “Our losses by one or two comes down to not being able to finish it. The key is sticking together. That’s how you close games. If we’d done one or two different things, we might have won those games. That’s what we’ve got to do our next games.”
The Mavericks will get an opportunity to do something different to win a road game this weekend. Mesa plays at 12th-ranked Colorado School of Mines (13-2, 9-2 RMAC) at 8 p.m. on Friday in Golden, then at Colorado Christian (2-13, 1-10 RMAC) at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Lakewood.
“I feel like we’ve got to play better throughout the game,” CMU coach Jim Heaps said. “We lose a lot of possessions when we’re just not executing what we do on the offensive end. When it comes down to the last shot, sometimes they fall, sometimes they don’t. It’s tough when you go through it, but our plan is let’s try to play better basketball through the 40 minutes so it doesn’t come to (a final shot to win).”
Colorado Mesa is 0-3 in games decided in the final seconds this season.
“What happens in the last few seconds almost never happens how you draw it up,” Heaps said. “It always comes down to players making plays. At Western State, we got the ball into our best scorer’s hands, he took the shot. That’s what you want.”
Mesa’s youth could be factor in its road struggles. Five of the Mavericks’ top eight players in minutes played are freshmen or sophomores. Last year, Mesa had seven juniors or seniors play a majority of the minutes. Lance Fite, Russell Gregory and Kalonji Paschal were all confident and capable of taking and hitting the last shot, but they are all gone.
The Mavericks haven’t found that player yet this season, but it doesn’t mean no one is willing to take that shot.
Bear did last week in a 58-57 loss at Western State.
He says he’s confident in himself and his teammates to take it and make it.
“I think what the defense gives us determines (who takes the final shot in a close game),” Bear said. “I think we all have confidence to take the shot and confidence in each other to take that shot.”
Mesa is at least giving itself a chance to win road games in the competitive RMAC even when the Mavs aren’t drawing fouls and hitting free throws.
“We are giving ourselves a chance at the end, it’s just not going our way,” Heaps said. “Now is the time we’ve got to stay together and keep showing up.
“We’re doing a good job of hanging around, we’ve just got to finish now. This team is more than capable of winning every time they go out on the floor.”