‘D’ makes the difference
Katrina Selsor's crucial stop helps Mavs top Metro
They could barely hear one another on the court the final five minutes.
“It was unbelievable,” Katrina Selsor said. “The atmosphere here, no other school in the RMAC has that. We can feed off that. We knew it was going to be a tough one, down to the wire, and we finished it like we wanted to.”
The fourth-ranked Mavericks, with Selsor coming up with a crucial defensive stop, remained undefeated with a 73-67 win over Metro State at jam-packed Brownson Arena.
Kelsey Sigl couldn’t catch her breath.
“I felt like I had asthma. I was struggling,” Sigl said after the Mavericks ended a five-game losing streak against Metro. It was the first time any of the current Maverick players had beaten the Roadrunners. “I couldn’t catch my breath. I don’t know, excitement? I couldn’t settle down.”
The defense was having all kinds of trouble getting stops until Selsor got into position on the baseline with 1:23 to play and the Mavericks clinging to a three-point lead. She was hoping to draw a charge, which didn’t happen, but she did force Emily Wood to lose the ball out of bounds.
It was just the defensive stop the Mavericks had to have.
“We made enough plays. They’re a good team,” CMU coach Taylor Wagner said of Metro. “They’re going to force us into some things we didn’t want to do. We made some turnovers late trying to run some sets, but the big thing we talked about was making free throws, and that was a big difference.”
That was the difference. Mesa (16-0, 12-0 RMAC) made 27 of 33 free throws, Metro (11-6, 9-3) three of four.
The Mavericks committed only eight fouls, Metro 21.
“Their defense is good, but we weren’t aggressive enough,” Metro State coach Tanya Haave said. “We’ve got to draw more fouls.”
Katrina and Sharaya Selsor traded free throws the final 15 seconds after the Roadrunners had cut what was once a 19-point CMU lead to one. Katrina hit four and Sharaya two to finally put away the Roadrunners.
“I tried to step up to the line and shoot like we do in practice every day,” said Katrina Selsor, who finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. “I just wanted to step up and be confident and know I could knock it down and help get the win for my teammates.”
True to form, the Mavericks took a big lead early, but the Roadrunners wouldn’t go away. Just the opposite — Metro went on a 12-1 run to end the first half and cut the lead to five, 39-34.
“Any time they went on a run it wasn’t what they were doing, it was what we weren’t doing,” said Sharaya Selsor, who had 11 points. “Hands down we could have put the nail in in the first half. We were almost up 20, and we come in at halftime up five?”
Sigl, who finished with 22 points, scored 16 in the first half, and the Mavericks went right back to her to open the second half. Metro switched some defensive assignments on her in the second half, putting Kristin Valencia on her instead of Amy Nelson, making it tougher for Sigl to get an open look.
“All three years she’s guarded me, and I struggle on her,” Sigl said. “Give her credit, she’s a great defender. That’s when we have how many other players who can create something for our team.”
A three-point play five minutes into the second half by Hanna Bowden helped Mesa build the lead to 12, but with nine minutes to play, the Roadrunners went on another run.
“I was pleased we were able to hang in there,” Haave said. “We were too far down against an excellent team. You can’t put yourself in that situation.”
Wood, who led Metro with 19 points, stole the ball and hit a layup on the other end with 5:56 to play to make it a three-point game, 64-61.
“They’re gonna make runs, and we didn’t want to give them easy shots,” Wagner said. “There was a time in transition they made a couple of layups, and we were trying to cover that and the next time they hit a 3.
“That was the big thing, we didn’t get back, but that’s the game of basketball, the runs. When you’re on one you want to keep it going, and when they’re on one you want to stop it quickly.”
Kya DeGarmo hit a huge 3-pointer for Metro with 3:36 to play, cutting Mesa’s lead to 65-64.
The Mavericks were having trouble getting into their offense against Metro’s half-court defense. Mesa didn’t have a field goal in the final 9:33, after Bowden took a nice pass from Sharaya Selsor and hit a layup for a 62-50 lead.
“Metro plays a lot like we do. They try to make you take tough shots, stay in front of you, play good D,” Katrina Selsor said. “That’s what they do. They make you take tough shots. They don’t let you get in the paint unless it’s body to body. They just play unbelievable defense and make you take tough shots.”
Metro outscored the Mavericks 17-11 from then on, but the Mavericks stubbornly held onto the lead by making 11 of 12 free throws.
And Mesa’s defense was good enough to make the Roadrunners take some shots they didn’t want to down the stretch.
“Our goal was to contest every shot,” Katrina Selsor said. “If it goes in and it’s contested, there’s not much else you can do. First and second in the league in defensive stops per game, we knew it was going to be a battle, and we were really fortunate to come out with a win tonight.”