Nebraska-Kearney’s Deans puts on show for Mesa State men.

PHOTO BY DANIELLE STOMBERG—Mesa State’s Jake Swartzendruber puts one up against Nebraska Kearney Friday at Brownsen Arena.

Chris Deans averages 7.7 points a game for the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

He’s pretty good at ignoring his stats.

Deans, a 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman, hit his first 10 shots from the field and finished with 35 points Friday night in the Lopers’ 93-87 RMAC victory over Mesa State at Brownson Arena.

“I’d have to say this is a first,” Deans said with a grin. “I am a little bit streaky. I’m trying to work on my consistency, but they were just falling. It was one of those nights the basket looks ... well, big.”

It didn’t look so big in the Lopers’ shootaround Friday afternoon, he said, but something sure changed once the game lights came on.

Deans’ first miss didn’t come until 13:14 remained in the game when, with the shot clock winding down, Andre Carter swatted his attempt from the corner out of bounds.

“It wasn’t a surprise because he’s real streaky,” Kearney coach Tom Kropp said. “In practice we’ve seen him, not quite do what he did tonight, but hit four or five in a row.

“We know when he gets hot he can really ... that’s what he did tonight.”

It might have been a coincidence, but after that miss, the Mavericks (5-7, 2-3 RMAC) went on a 10-0 run and cut what was an 18-point lead to eight, 70-62.

You couldn’t ask for a more evenly played game after the Lopers’ first flurry. Kearney (6-6, 3-2 RMAC) shot 56 percent from the field, the Mavs 52.6. Kearney hit 58.3 percent from the 3-point line, Mesa State 55 percent, and both teams had 28 rebounds.

The difference? Deans’ eight 3-pointers. Kearney hit 14 from the 3-point line, the Mavs 11.

The Lopers (6-6, 3-2 RMAC) shot an unheard-of 71.4 percent from the 3-point line in the first half, building a 33-16 lead midway through.

Mesa State, buying into the break-neck pace of the game, cut the lead to six, 48-42, by halftime.

That pace hurt the Mavericks, who several times shot too quickly in the possession and giving the Lopers a chance to race down and fire up another 3.

“You get in, not a panic thing, but ‘I’ll step up,’ ’’ Mesa State coach Jim Heaps said of the Mavs’ tendency to shoot too quickly. “All of a sudden we’re getting behind and we’re down 7, 9, 11 and (players think) ‘I’ll hit a shot. The first time I catch it I’ll shoot.’ ”

When the Mavericks did run the offense, they got open shots and got back in the game.
Of course, just when the Mavericks were in a spot when they could pull back into it, back came Deans.

After a few minutes on the bench, he re-entered the game with about six minutes to play, and immediately hit another 3 with Carter in his face.

Back came the Mavericks, scoring seven straight, with Kurt Bangle following a driving miss by Ryan Mathews, who finished with 26 points, with a layup and a free throw when he was fouled.

With two minutes left, Carter got a fingertip on a 3 by Deans with 2:00 to play but possession was awarded to the Mavericks, who were down five, 83-78.

However, no one stayed back for the inbounds pass and Kearney picked off Mathew’s pass.

“We got it to five and have the ball with two minutes left,” Heaps said.

“We thought it was right there for us but we had a miscommunication on the inbounds and that’s the ballgame.

“Now it’s seven and a three-possession game with a minute and half left. When you’re coming back from that big a deficit, you cannot do that. Everything has to go right.”


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