Adams’ slowdown doesn’t stall Mesa
It was clear from the first possession Friday night that the Adams State University women’s basketball team was absolutely, positively not going to try to run with No. 4 Colorado Mesa.
No way, no how.
It didn’t much matter. Once the Mavericks adjusted to the Grizzlies not starting their offense until 14 seconds remained on the 30-second shot clock, CMU (24-1, 20-1 RMAC) executed its half-court offense for a 56-38 victory.
“It wasn’t the funnest game we’ve ever played, that’s for sure,” said guard Sharaya Selsor, who in the second half picked up pressure in the backcourt to try to force the action. “Their idea was to slow us down and take us out of our game because obviously we like to push the ball, but it was a good test.
“That’s awesome going down the stretch when we need to learn how to play different ways and win in different situations. It was good practice.”
It didn’t matter if the Grizzlies got an offensive rebound or a turnover, they pulled the ball back out and waited for the clock to run down again.
After a Mesa basket, point guard Keyondra White would simply hold the ball in the backcourt. When the shot clock got to 14, the Grizzlies would start cutting through the lane, trying to get the Mavs out of position for an open shot.
“That was different, huh?” CMU coach Taylor Wagner said. “He (Adams coach Kelly Kruger) told me afterwards that was something they needed to do to try to slow us down. I just told the girls we needed to go a different way, and it was good to see that.
“I thought we handled it fine, and now we’ve gotta be ready for (tonight) and a different style of game (against Fort Lewis).”
The Mavs were frustrated at times defensively, standing back at the 3-point line waiting for the Grizzlies to play, but didn’t get caught on their heels.
“We’re used to getting up and running, so maybe they thought they weren’t doing as much and playing as hard as we normally do,” Wagner said. “We told them to focus on the last 15 seconds of the possession. You can’t get lulled to sleep in the first 15 seconds, and then play hard for 15 seconds and the 30 seconds we have it and we’ll be OK.”
The Mavericks called out screens, switched defensive assignments if someone got caught on a screen, and allowed the Grizzlies to shoot only 36 percent from the field. For the most part, Adams State was limited to one and done, getting only five offensive rebounds.
And the Mavericks, by making every possession count, only turned the ball over seven times, just once in the second half. They also didn’t foul — three in the first half, five in the second — and the Grizzlies shot only two free throws the entire game.
Conversely, Mesa hit 17 of 20 at the free-throw line and got 16 points from Kelsey Sigl despite playing only seven minutes in the first half after picking up her second foul.
Katrina Selsor attacked the basket for 13 points, seven at the free-throw line, and her driving layup with 5:41 to play gave the Mavericks a 20-point lead, 50-30.
“I think our biggest thing was in the first half, we didn’t quite know how to handle it,” Sharaya Selsor said. “We’d never been in that situation. When we’d go down on our offensive possession we were thinking this is so important, we can’t screw up, and we were playing tentative. Plus, it was hard to get easy transition buckets, which is a huge part of our game.”
But the Mavericks have dozens of half-court sets, so instead of running the floor and hitting layups, they simply executed their half-court game.
The Mavericks had 14 assists on 18 made baskets, with both Selsor sisters dishing out four assists by attacking the paint and drawing the defense, then dropping the ball off to Sigl or finding another guard who was open.
And then they’d hustle back on defense — and wait.
“I’ve seen that; a junior college team would do that against us all the time,” Wagner said of when he was coaching at Otero Junior College.
“The first time I saw it I got really frustrated, but tonight, I knew what they were doing. Mentally you’ve got to switch gears a little bit and be a little more disciplined in these few areas. It’s just going to be a lower-scoring game.”