Western’s barrage of 3s too much for Mavs in loss

When the 6-foot-8, 300-pound center bangs home a 3-pointer, you just know it’s going to be one of those nights.

That was Saturday for the Colorado Mesa University men’s basketball team, which lost to a desperate Western State Colorado University team, 93-82.

The Mountaineers hit 16 of 27 shots from the 3-point line, including one by Charles Joseph, their big man.

“It wasn’t only that one,” CMU associate head coach Andy Shantz said. “In the second half they were on a barrage and one time they tipped it and it went to the big kid and he tipped in unintentionally right to someone in the corner and he turns and shoot it.

“That’s when you go, ‘OK, it’s not our night.’ ‘’

Every starter hit at least one 3 for the Mountaineers, who moved into eighth place in the RMAC standings with the win, giving them a chance to earn a spot in the RMAC Shootout.

The Mavericks (17-7, 14-6) haven’t quite clinched a first-round home game, but they would have to lose both of their remaining games and CSU-Pueblo would have to upset top-ranked Metro State to fall out of the top four.

Colorado Mesa hit 13 3-pointers of its own, but couldn’t keep pace with the Mountaineers.

Western (10-14, 9-11) hit a half-dozen 3s in the first half to forge a 37-31 halftime lead, then erupted in the second half, netting 10 of 13.

“It was unbelievable,” Shantz said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like it in 20 years. Their coach was looking down at us shrugging his shoulders. Nobody in the building could believe it.”

A 3 by Steve Aldridge gave the Mountaineers a 28-point lead, 77-49, with 7:09 to play, and the Mavs were still down 20, 83-63, with 2:57 to play.

Paul Walter and Jeff Hart each hit a couple of free throws, then Walter stole the ball. Landon Vermeer drained a 3 in transition and suddenly, the Mavericks had some life.

Clay Kame hit a driving layup and was fouled, making the free throw and after two free throws by Aldridge, Walter hit a 3 with 1:08 to play.

That made it 87-76, but the Mavericks had to foul to stop the clock, and the Mountaineers showed they could hit free throws, too, making eight straight down the stretch and 19 of 22 for the game.

“It’s much different being down 20 and hitting 3s,” Shantz said. “It’s tougher to hit them when it’s still a game. You’ve got to tip your cap to them.”

Vermeer hit another 3 with 41 seconds left to cut it to seven, 89-82, when the fire alarm in Paul Wright Gym went off, stopping play.

Officials determined there was no fire and did not evacuate the building, but the teams had to wait until the fire alarm stopped blaring to resume play.

They finished the game with the warning lights still flashing in the corners of the small gym.

Vermeer led the Mavericks with 17 points, Hart had 15 and Kevin Screen 11.

The Mavericks came storming back in the second half as they have all season, but the 28-point hole was just too deep.

“That’s been this team’s M.O. this year,” Shantz said. “It takes them a while to get into a lather and feel comfortable.

“We’ve played great in the second half all year. Hopefully we can do better next weekend. We’ve got two really good teams and they’re going to be a dog fight.”

Western got 24 points from Travis Shepherd, who hit six 3-pointers.

Jordan Adams had 20, making four 3s, Mike Vandahl had 19 points and three 3s.

The Mavericks wrap up the regular season at home against Adams State on Friday night and Fort Lewis on Saturday. The Skyhawks knocked off No. 1 Metro State this weekend.

“We’re still playing to get into that regional tournament,” Shantz said. “Every game counts.”

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