Early lead lifts Mines past Mesa

Colorado School of Mines didn’t give the Colorado Mesa University men’s basketball team much of a chance to shake its struggles.

The 12th-ranked Orediggers forced six early turnovers to build a lead and never let Mesa back in it, defeating the Mavericks 66-48 on Friday night at Lockridge Arena in Golden.

Mesa (8-8, 6-6 RMAC) has lost five of its past six games and is on a five-game road losing streak.

“We’re not beating people to the ball,” CMU associate head coach Andy Shantz said. “We seem to be a half-step late. It’s an effort thing. The guys know we need to play harder.

“It’s a confidence thing. Confidence is a funny thing. Since the Christmas break, we haven’t had it. You can lose it easily and get it back easily.”

Michael Bear led Mesa with 17 points and seven rebounds. He was the only Mesa player to score in double figures.

Trevor Ritchie led Mines (14-2, 10-2 RMAC) with 20 points and Brett Green added 14.

“Mines has a lot of good players,” Shantz said. “They are mature and have been through it. They executed well.”

The Orediggers forced five turnovers in a five-minute stretch midway through the first half to push a three-point lead to 11. Mines scored 24 points off 19 Mesa turnovers.

Mesa cut the lead to five with 4:28, but the Orediggers went on a 10-4 run to close the first half. Mines led 31-20 at halftime.

Mines opened the second half with a 19-6 run to push its lead to 24 points, the largest of the game, with 8:05 left.

The Orediggers grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and scored 18 second-chance points. Mines scored 38 points in the paint to Mesa’s 22.

“We matched up well with them size-wise,” Shantz said. “We were just not as physical. They were more aggressive. We’ve got to be to turn this around.”

Colorado Mesa plays Colorado Christian (2-14, 1-11 RMAC) at 7 tonight in Lakewood.

The Cougars lost 80-53 to Western State on Friday.


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