Kame’s defense lifts Mavericks

Clay Kame hadn’t scored a point Friday night, but he came up with big play after big play for the Colorado Mesa University men’s basketball team.

“I don’t know where I was the whole game, but I just stuck with it and knew that if he was going to put me in, I was going to get down in my (defensive) stance and work as hard as I could,” the junior guard said after his two free throws with 5.3 seconds left in overtime sealed the Mavericks’ 69-66 overtime victory against Black Hills State at Brownson Arena.

Kame made the difference on defense down the stretch, with three crucial plays to prevent Black Hills from winning in regulation and overtime.

With about six seconds to play in regulation, Brady Bisgaard drove the lane for Black Hills, and Kame slapped the ball away. Jeff Hart’s driving layup with 1.5 seconds left was short, and Black Hills called timeout.

The Yellowjackets threw the ball to midcourt, but there was Kame again, stealing the ball and heaving it at the rim just before the horn sounded. It bounced off, sending it to overtime.

“I was more worried about stealing the ball,” Kame said. “I just wanted to not let them get a shot up. I just kind of threw it up there for fun, just flicked it over my shoulder.”

Just as they did the entire night, the teams went back and forth in the overtime.

A 3-pointer by Bisgaard gave Black Hills (5-15, 4-12 RMAC) a 66-64 lead with 1:20 left to play. Colorado Mesa (15-5, 12-4) couldn’t get the tying bucket, with Kevin Hanes deflecting Colton Burgon’s layup attempt and grabbing the rebound.

With 15 seconds to play, Black Hills attacked the paint and again, but there was Kame, blocking a shot by Joey Mitchell and snatching the ball.

Daniel Estes took off, and Kame threw the ball the length of the court. Estes, off balance and his back to the basket, tipped the ball to Burgon, who was streaking in from the left wing.

“Coach said off this (possession) just make sure we’re running because there’s going to be roughly 10 seconds left, so if we can get an easy shot, run,” said Burgon, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

“I saw Danny take off, and I said I’m going to run, too, and hopefully he can attract some (defenders). He had a perfect pass for how he caught it. I got bumped and was able to finish and make the free throw, which was nice.”

Burgon hit the driving layup and was fouled, hitting the bonus for a 67-66 lead with 9.9 seconds to play.

Kame deflected the first attempt at an inbounds pass out of bounds, and Mike Melillo’s tight defense on Mitchell forced him to lose the ball out of bounds with 5.5 seconds left.

Kame was fouled and hit the clinching free throws, his only points of the game. Jeff Hart finished with 16 points, Melillo 11 and Estes 10 for the Mavericks.

CMU coach Jim Heaps wasn’t sure how the Mavericks (15-5, 12-4) escaped with the win.

“We were dead in the water, and we get a steal at the end of overtime and pass ahead, and Colton makes the tough finish and hits the free throw,” Heaps said. “Clay gets another hand on the ball, and (Melillo) gets the guy to hit it off his knee out of bounds. We definitely won it at the defensive end.”

Kame was having trouble keeping everything straight.

“I was lucky I got that block there at the end,” he said. “It may have been a foul in regulation, but you’ve got to be physical there, and the ball popped out and Jeff caught it.

“I don’t even know what we did. It’s a blur.”

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