Defense triggers CMU road win

The Colorado Mesa men’s basketball team played one of its better defensive games of the season Friday night, and it paid off.

The Mavericks limited Black Hills State to 36 percent shooting and defeated the Yellow Jackets 71-64 at the Donald Young Center in Spearfish, S.D.

Colorado Mesa (10-10, 8-8 RMAC) is 3-0 when limiting its opponent below 40 percent from the floor.

“We played much better,” CMU coach Andy Shantz said. “We defended well. It was a great team effort.

“The first weekend we went to Denver, we defended well, but had no success. We’re starting to understand what to do on defense.”

Black Hills State (8-12, 6-10 RMAC) hit 10 3-pointers, but it took 30 attempts. The Yellow Jackets shot 36 percent from the floor.

Colorado Mesa shot 44 percent from the floor (51.5 percent on 2-point field goals). The Mavericks are 9-2 when they have a higher shooting percentage than their opponent.

Ryan Stephan led all scorers with 26 points. Joe Kiely had 16 points, and Mike Melillo added 10.

Myles Henry led Black Hills State with 19 points. Brady Bisgaard had 14, and Tommy Earl added 12.

Mesa’s defense helped them get off to a 10-2 lead to start the game, but the Yellow Jackets got within one point with 4:32 left in the low-scoring first half.

The Mavericks led 25-21 at halftime as both teams struggled from the floor. Mesa shot 37 percent and the Yellow Jackets shot 26.9 percent.

“We struggled in the first half to get going,” Shantz said. “The second half we played well. We did a good job executing.”

The Mavs pushed their lead to 10 points on a Melillo 3-pointer.

After a Black Hills State timeout, the Yellow Jackets rallied with a 9-4 run to cut Mesa’s lead in half.

Mesa extended its lead to 11 points with 11:47 left, but Black Hills came back and cut it to one point on a three-point play by Yoshio Allen with 5:56 left.

The Mavericks went back to attacking the basket and drew fouls. They hit 15 of 15 free throws in the final five minutes.

Mesa went to the free-throw line 26 times, making 22 (84 percent) for the game.

The Mavericks play at 7:30 tonight at Chadron State.


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