Mesa women cruise past Highlands

Playing what coach Taylor Wagner called its most complete game of the season, the fourth-ranked Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team had its biggest offensive night of the season Friday night, cruising to a 92-53 victory over New Mexico Highlands.

“The defense was there, we shot the ball well, we moved the ball well,” Wagner said. “It was all week. I told the girls it didn’t just start today. Our practices all week were great and spirited, (Thursday) night when we got here for our practice and today at shoot-around, they were really focused.”

The Mavericks (21-1, 17-1 RMAC) went on a 16-0 run in the first half after Highlands scored the first bucket of the game and never let up.

With Kelsey Sigl scoring 30 points, one off her career high, the Mavericks shot 54 percent from the field and allowed Highlands (4-18, 4-14) to shoot only 31.5 percent. Colorado Mesa scored 27 points off turnovers and 11 points off a dozen offensive rebounds.

“They put one of their bigger girls on her, and Kelsey went out on the perimeter and got a lot of shots,” Wagner said. “The girl doesn’t have the speed or athleticism to go out there.

“Kelsey was really focused today, on her free throws (8 of 9), went 10 for 14 (from the field) and had 10 rebounds. She did a good job for us.”

Sigl had 21 points by halftime and Sharaya Selsor 10 of her 18 points as the Mavericks built a 47-30 halftime lead.

Katrina Selsor finished with 16 points before the starters headed to the bench and gave the reserves plenty of playing time in the final seven minutes. The bench came up with 28 points, not allowing Highlands to cut into the 30-point lead.

In fact, the reserves extended the lead to 38 points when Laurel Kasel hit a 3-pointer with 2:55 to play, and Taylor Johnson’s layup in the final minute provided the 39-point margin.

“They played defense, they got rebounds, they moved the ball, and we got shots,” Wagner said of the reserves. “They looked more comfortable out there. The more time they get, the better they feel about themselves and have more confidence. That’s what we need. That’s how they’re going to grow.”

The Mavericks still have a two-game lead in the RMAC race over Metro State, which did not play Friday, and CU-Colorado Springs. They also picked up one more game on CSU-Pueblo, which lost at Fort Lewis College. The Skyhawks moved into a tie for fourth place with the ThunderWolves, both at 12-5.

With a veteran team, Wagner knows the Mavericks understand it’s time to start peaking with four games left in the regular season.

“We’ve talked about we’ve got to finish off the right way,” he said. “Four games left and things can change drastically for us. We need to keep plugging along and secure the top seed and win the conference.

“The girls kind of zeroed in and are focused on the next couple of games and what we need to do and where we want to go. It’s more about us, I think, and our concentration level and our focus. When we do that, we’re a good team.”

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