Out of sync
Sloppy Mavs survive against Western New Mexico
Taylor Wagner sent a message less than six minutes into Friday night’s Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference women’s basketball game at Brownson Arena.
With No. 25 Colorado Mesa University playing a team with only one win this season, Western New Mexico, the Mavericks were playing sloppy basketball. Up only two, 19-17, five minutes in, Wagner sent five new players to check in.
“The big thing for them, they’ve got to play every possession,” CMU’s first-year coach said after the Mavericks toughed out a 63-50 win. “We’re not talented enough to just turn it on and off. We’ve talked about that. You can’t be a team that’s, ‘OK, I’m playing now and now I’m not.’
“We’ve got to play hard all the time. When we play hard we’re really good, and when we don’t we’re average.”
When the starters came back in a little more than three minutes later, the effort was noticeably better, but the Mustangs (1-6, 0-3) hung around. Kelsey Sigl scored 12 points in a 14-4 run, including a pair of 3-pointers trailing the break, to erase a 17-11 deficit and give the Mavericks a 23-21 lead.
They led by only one, 29-28, at halftime and made fewer field goals (20-19) and 3-pointers (8-6) than the Mustangs (1-6, 0-3), but outrebounded them 49-30 and went 17 of 24 from the free-throw line to Western New Mexico’s 4 of 6.
“We looked like it was the first week. It looked like the first week of practice,” Wagner said. “We didn’t make reads. When girls were open we missed them.
“I think we forced shots. We talked about sharing the basketball. When we do that we’re hard to guard. If we try to do it ourselves it’s difficult.”
Mesa forced a couple of shot-clock violations in the second half and made the Mustangs shoot deep in the shot clock several times.
Offensively, though, the Mavericks looked like they were trying to score so quickly and knock Western New Mexico out that they never got in any kind of rhythm.
“Every play was almost off a broken play that was scored,” Wagner said. “We never got in any rhythm. That’s because of our defense. We weren’t getting stuff in transition, and it hurt us a little bit.”
Sharaya Selsor burned a big 3-pointer off an offensive rebound with 5:56 left for a 10-point lead, Mesa’s first double-figure lead of the night.
The Mustangs, who also had four players in double figures, stayed in it, running off screens and taking advantage of Mesa closing out late a couple of times to get open shots.
It was a game until about four minutes remained, when Bruna Deichmann, who got the start Friday in place of Taylor Rock, out with a sprained ankle, grabbed a defensive rebound and raced down the floor. She hit a driving layup, was fouled, and hit the bonus for a 54-47 lead with 3:52 to play.
“That was the thing, we made enough shots to make it comfortable the last two minutes,” Wagner said. “If those shots don’t go in, it’s a different ballgame, and it’s going down to the last possession.”
Katrina Selsor and Sharaya Selsor hit back-to-back 3s in the final two minutes to make it comfortable, 62-48, with 1:19 left.
Sigl finished with 17 points, Katrina Selsor 16, Deichmann 14 and Sharaya Selsor 13. With Rock out of the starting lineup — she’ll try to play tonight against New Mexico Highlands — there wasn’t much bench scoring. Only Effo Baker scored off the bench, with two points. Starting point guard Christen Lopez had one point.
The Mavs (7-0, 2-0 RMAC) weren’t smiling as they left the floor or after the post-game discussion ended.
“The good thing is we didn’t lose,” Wagner said. “We got a victory and hopefully learned from it, and we’ll give a better effort tomorrow night.”