CMU men sweep New Mexico road trip

Colorado Mesa took command early and never let up, rolling to an 81-62 victory over the New Mexico Highlands men’s basketball team Saturday night in Las Vegas, N.M.

It was Mesa’s first win in Las Vegas since the 2010-11 season.

“That’s something we talked about,” CMU coach Andy Shantz said. “You have to be ultra-focused. I thought the night before we didn’t come out with energy. Tonight, we did.”

Ryan Stephan led the Mavericks (5-3, 3-1 RMAC) with 20 points. Landon Vermeer scored 12, and Clay Kame added 10. Jon Orr and Carlos Perez each had nine points.

Mesa outscored Highlands 24-12 in the paint.

“(Stephan) and Carlos had buckets that were big for us,” Shantz said. “When those guys play well, our guys recognize that.”

Mannie Cass led Highlands (5-3, 2-2 RMAC) with 19 points. Stargell Love added 12.

The Mavericks took advantage of a Highlands team that played two overtime periods Friday night in a 101-99 victory over Western State.

The Cowboys took a 2-1 lead in the first minute and didn’t lead again. Mesa responded with a 12-4 run with a pair of layups from Stephan and a Perez putback for a 13-6 lead. The Mavs led 19-14 midway through the first half and pushed their lead to 12 points with 5:13 left in the half on a Kame layup.

Mesa led 37-26 at halftime. The Mavs are 2-0 this season when leading at halftime.

Mesa didn’t kick back and relax. It continued to attack the basket and the boards in the second half.

The Mavs opened the second half with a 7-0 run for a 44-26 lead with baskets from Stephan, Vermeer and a 3-pointer from Orr.

“We’ve built leads in the past, and they would come out like gangbusters,” Shantz said. “It was important for us to stay with the game plan. Our guys never flinched.”

Vermeer hit a 3-pointer to give Mesa a 53-38 lead with 14:55 left. Daniel Estes hit a 3-pointer for a 56-38 lead, then Kame scored to give Mesa a 20-point lead with 12:44 left.

The Mavs led 66-42 with 10:07 left, then maintained their advantage, which got as high as 25 points with 4:35 left in the game.

Colorado Mesa grabbed 43 rebounds and scored 18 second-chance points. The Mavericks limited Highlands to 28 rebounds and three second-chance points.

“New Mexico Highlands likes to have as many possessions as possible,” Shantz said. “Our guys did a great job blocking out and crashing the boards on the offensive end.”

Mesa hosts RMAC rival Fort Lewis at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

The Skyhawks defeated Adams State 97-93 in overtime in Alamosa.


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