Mesa State men top Illinois-Springfield

The Mesa State College men’s basketball team bounced back from its first loss of the season with a victory.

The 22nd-ranked Mavericks dug in on the defensive end and made free throws to defeat the University of Illinois-Springfield 72-61 on Monday night in Springfield, Ill.

“It was a good win considering it was our third game in three nights far from home,” Mesa State associate head coach Andy Shantz said. “The guys responded.”

Jase Herl and Mike Dominguez did especially. A night after they were held to single digits in points, they combined for 34.

Herl led Mesa (10-1) with 19 points and five steals. Dominguez had 15, Lance Fite added 12 and Brian Kenshalo had 11.

Dominguez was named the RMAC West Division player of the week for the second week in a row, earlier Monday.

The senior guard scored a season-high 33 points, including 30 in the second half, of a win over Central State (Ohio) University in the Quincy (Ill.) Holiday Invitational on Saturday in Quincy, Ill. Although he was held to 9 points Sunday against Quincy, he made the all-tournament team, averaging 21 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the two-day tournament.

Michael Bear, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, didn’t play Sunday or Monday so he could attend his sister’s wedding.

Mesa did it with defense, limiting the Prairie Stars (4-3) to 36.9 percent shooting. Ill.-Springfield, though, was aggressive on the boards, grabbing 43 rebounds to Mesa’s 31.

“We’ve defended well all year,” Shantz said. “Every few games, though, we don’t rebound well. We need to shore that up. We were sharing the ball and did a good job making the extra cuts.”

Mesa went on a 9-3 run early in the second half to build an eight point lead, 46-38, with 13:20 left to play. The Prairie Dogs (4-3) got as close as two, 51-49, with 10:24 left, but Mesa put the game away with an 11-3 run.

The Mavericks are off until Jan. 8 when they return to RMAC play at Chadron State.


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