CMU falls to St. Edward’s in close battle
With six minutes left, it was anybody’s game.
Eimer Lopez had just scored on a driving layup to pull the Colorado Mesa men’s basketball team within one point, 56-55, and the Mavericks needed one more push.
Instead, 57 seconds later, they were down seven after giving up back-to-back 3-pointers Saturday in a 71-66 loss to St. Edward’s in the Heartland-RMAC Shootout in Dallas, falling to 0-2.
“It would be four or five (points) and we’d cut it and then it’d be four, five, six and we’d cut it,” CMU coach Andy Shantz said. “We ran out of steam a little bit.
“I think we got it tied in the last minute of the first half (actually, down one before giving up another 3) but we couldn’t get over that hump. We didn’t shoot free throws well, 6 for 14. It’s hard to win when you do that.”
In the final five minutes, the Mavericks were down by as many as eight, but every time came back. CJ Davis, who led the Mavericks with 23 points, hit a 3-pointer to pull Mesa within five, but they kept trading shots with the Hilltoppers (1-1).
Nate Hawley’s 3-pointer with 1:52 to play made it 69-65, and Lopez added a free throw to make it a three-point game with 1:29 to go, but missed the second, and Mesa didn’t get off another shot until Davis missed a 3 at the buzzer.
St. Edward’s hit a pair of free throws with one second left.
The Mavericks shot 38 percent in the first half to fall behind.
“We struggled in the first half running offense and it wasn’t them, it was us,” Shantz said. “We were better in the second half. Not great, but better.”
Connor Nichols scored 13 points for CMU, with James Sylvester and Lopez adding six each.
Despite having a veteran roster, Shantz said the Mavericks are still adjusting to one another because their roles have changed so much.
“We are used to each other, but the roles have significantly changed without Ryan (Stephan),” Shantz said. “Young kids are having to play up and some who were second or third scoring options last year have to be first or second options this year.”
The lack of a big man has altered the inside-out attack the Mavericks have run for so many years.
“We are perimeter-oriented but we’re good off the dribble,” Shantz said.
Now, though, the Mavericks have more than a couple of scrimmages to learn from before this weekend’s tournament at Western State.
“I feel progress is there,” Shantz said, pulling a quote he had heard, which was used by General Electric years ago: “Progress is our most important product.”
Toss out the second quarter and it’s a 51-51 ballgame.
That second quarter, though, was all Simon Fraser, which defeated Colorado Mesa 71-57 in the Dixie State Tournament in St. George, Utah.
The Clan outscored CMU 20-6 in the second quarter, pushing a 14-12 lead to 34-18 at the half.
“The first, third and fourth quarters, it was even,” CMU coach Taylor Wagner said. “That second quarter we couldn’t get anything going. We missed a bunch of easy shots and we didn’t guard. We gave up 20 points in that quarter.”
Simon Fraser put four players in double figures, and shot 38.5 percent from the field to CMU’s 29.3 percent.
“We made a little run in the second half but we’d shoot ourselves in the foot with turnover,” Wagner said. “We could have cut it to single digits and we’d turn it over and slow the momentum down. It wasn’t our night.”
Bryanna Adams got going in the second half, scoring 15 of her 18 points.
“In the first half Bry had a bunch of shots that rimmed in and right back out,” Wagner said. “They were good looks. The ball would not go in for us in the second quarter.
“We were hoping with about four minutes left (in the half) and they were up nine or 10, we wanted to cut into it. We didn’t do that and they went on their little run and got up too much.”