Give me five!
Five-point play swings momentum Mavs' way in win
Five-point plays don’t come along all that often.
“That was cool. I didn’t know that was possible,” senior forward Hannah Pollart said Tuesday night after the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team fought off CU-Colorado Springs 70-57 in the quarterfinals of the RMAC Shootout.
It is possible — and it turned the tide for the Mavericks, allowing them to host the semifinals and championship rounds of the tournament Friday and Saturday.
Colorado Mesa (26-1) faces Regis University at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Brownson. The Rangers (16-11) defeated Colorado Christian 74-64 in the quarterfinals. In the 5 p.m. game Friday, second-seeded CSU-Pueblo (22-7) plays sixth-seeded Black Hills State (14-13), which upset Fort Lewis 81-71. CSU-Pueblo held off Metro State 51-46.
That crucial swing came with 2:42 to play after the Mountain Lions had clawed back into the game. A three-point play by Abby Kirchoff pulled UCCS (13-14) within five points, 55-50, but the Mavericks went on a quick 6-2 run.
With 3:02 to play, Mesa’s Taylor Rock blocked Sam Patterson from behind to give the Mavericks the ball in transition.
Sharaya Selsor, who had struggled with her perimeter shot in the second half, came off a screen and settled at the top of the key.
Lopez got her the ball, and Selsor buried the wide-open 3 as the crowd of 1,213 roared its approval.
As the ball was snapping the net, the whistle blew, and CMU coach Taylor Wagner snapped his head around.
The official came to the table and signaled a holding foul against the Mountain Lions’ Kellie Krueger.
Count the basket. And put Pollart at the line for two shots, because the Mavericks were shooting the double bonus.
“I was running to go get an O board, and she just completely stuck her arm out and grabbed me, and the ref saw it,” Pollart said. “They probably do that every time, but he happened to see it that time.
“Sharaya knocked down that 3, and I just wanted to make sure it counted. I was like, ‘We’re good ... we’ll take the 3.’ “
Pollart hit both free throws for a 66-52 lead, too much for the Mountain Lions to overcome.
“That was the play when the momentum switched, and we kind of knew we had the game sealed at that point,” said Selsor, who finished with 18 points, one of four Mavericks in double figures. “We still had to get stops, but as long as we kept doing what we were doing, we had it put away at that point.”
The Mavericks, the top seed in the tournament who dropped to No. 4 in the national rankings after their first loss of the season, came out like gangbusters.
Pollart grabbed an offensive rebound and scored, then Selsor and Lopez hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open the game. It was 19-9 after Rock rattled home a 3 just before the shot clock expired, but the Mountain Lions just kept coming back.
It was 50-37 with 12:31 to play after Aubry Boehme grabbed an offensive rebound and got it to Lopez for a basket, but then the offense sputtered.
That’s when UCCS made its run, cutting the lead to 50-47 when Kirchoff hit a jumper in the lane with 7:15 to play.
“We didn’t score for five minutes,” Wagner said. “We turned it over and missed shots, probably more turnovers than missed shots, and shot ourselves in the foot.”
Both teams were exhausted in the physical game — Selsor was bounced off screen after screen as UCCS tried to get its leading scorer, Kirchoff, free — and the coaches were keeping an eye out for the media timeout.
UCCS coach Corey Laster almost called time during that 8-0 run to get his players a breather, but held off.
Wagner was hoping the Mavericks could get another bucket or two before the break, but four turnovers cost them that chance.
“Both teams were really tired,” Wagner said. “The media timeout was coming, and I thought, ‘OK, we’ve got them. Let’s get one or two more baskets while they’re tired,’ and it kind of backfired because we turned it over every time.
“I thought we really could have stretched that lead and got it up around 20, but we didn’t.”
Instead, the Mavericks made their run in the final seven minutes and hit nine of 11 free throws to advance.
Boehme finished with 15 points, Lopez 14 and Pollart 12. Selsor, despite fighting through all those screens, held Kirchoff to 12 points, below her average of 21.2.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” Pollart said. “This last month has been such a grind. You’re playing for something, but you don’t see the light at the end of tunnel. Now we’re in the tournament. Let’s go.”
Tickets for the RMAC Shootout are on sale at cmutickets.com. Reserved seats are $15, general admission $10 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $5 for students. CMU students are admitted free with their MavCard.
The Maverick Club hospitality room will be open Friday and Saturday for members.
■ The third South Central Region poll will be released today. The final poll March 9 determines the regional field and the host site. The RMAC, Lone Star and Heartland conference tournament champions receive an automatic bid, with five other at-large teams selected.