Reserves lift CMU men
The starters couldn’t find the energy and passion a second consecutive night.
That happens on occasion in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference men’s basketball.
The bench, though, had some energy to spare Saturday night, lifting Colorado Mesa University to a 67-57 victory over Western New Mexico at Brownson Arena.
“Our bench will play with a lot of energy,” CMU coach Jim Heaps said. “It’s weird how they will play with energy no matter what else is going on. I thought they gave us a lift on both ends. They ran pretty good offense and guarded real well.”
The victory moved Colorado Mesa (13-10, 11-8 RMAC) into a tie for fourth place in the RMAC with Nebraska-Kearney (13-9, 11-8). The Lopers lost 83-73 to No. 11 Metro State on Saturday.
“You go into (conference play) wanting to host a first-round game,” Heaps said. “With three games to go we’re in the hunt to host a first-round tournament game. That’s all you can ask for. We control our own destiny. If we win out, we have a good chance of being the four seed.”
Colton Burgon, in particular, gave Mesa a lift, leading all scorers with 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting. He scored 17 in the second half. The Mesa bench scored 49 points.
“When we come out flat (and) you come off the bench, you’ve got to do everything you can to get your team in it,” he said. “You’ve got to play defense as hard as you can. Once we get going, we’re a hard team to beat.”
Burgon gave Mesa a lift on the defensive end as well, limiting Western New Mexico’s versatile big man, Chad Carter, to 7-of-22 shooting. The junior scored 18 points.
Colton’s older brother, Chandler, helped on the defensive end.
“We knew we had to play good defense,” Chandler said. “Carter had a lot of points tonight, but 7 of 22 isn’t a good percentage. Coach said our bread and butter is our defense.”
Western New Mexico’s other offensive weapon, T.J. Riley, was limited to six points.
“If it takes someone 22 shots to get 18, we’ll take that,” Heaps said. “He didn’t have a lot in the first half then he got some shots to fall in the second half. Luckily Riley got in foul trouble in the first half and had to sit, because he’s an awfully good offensive player as well.”
Mesa limited the Mustangs (8-15, 8-11 RMAC) to 39 percent shooting and dominated the boards. The Mavs outrebounded Western New Mexico 45-31.
“I thought we really did a good job,” Heaps said. “To outrebound that team on offense was big. Our goal was 15 and we got 17. I thought that was a huge difference.”
Both teams struggled to get their offense going.
Neither team led by more than four points and the lead changed six times.
Mesa led 30-26 at halftime.
Western New Mexico cut Mesa’s lead to two, but the Mavericks answered with a 7-0 run to get some separation, leading 42-33 with 13:06 left.
“We came out the second half and didn’t play very well with that first group,” Heaps said. “They looked tired. Mike (Melillo) and Jeff (Hart) had to play a lot of minutes, but they looked tired. The bench looked rested and better so we went with them more.”