Early lead holds up as Mavs top Mustangs
Colorado Mesa University’s men’s basketball team got off to a good start and never looked back to win its first road game of the season.
The Mavericks built an early double-digit lead and pulled away Friday night to defeat Western New Mexico 71-57 in Silver City, N.M.
“We’ve been a second-half team,” Colorado Mesa associate head coach Andy Shantz said. “We got off to a better start, and I think we’ll do that more. We’re beginning to see progress with that.”
The Mavericks (5-2, 3-0 RMAC) took a 13-2 lead and kept it in double figures until late in the first half.
Western New Mexico (1-5, 1-2 RMAC) cut Mesa’s lead to six points with 4:18 left, but the Mavericks responded with an 8-4 run to push it back to 10 by halftime.
Mesa relied on its defense for the quick start. By the end of the game, the Mavs limited Western New Mexico to 26.2 percent shooting from the field, blocked eight shots, forced 19 turnovers and grabbed 50 rebounds.
“We defended well,” Shantz said. “That’s something our group has done all year. That gives you a chance to win.”
Mesa’s 50 rebounds in one game is second all-time to its 51 against Southern Virginia two weeks ago.
Mesa opened the second half with a 12-5 run for a 43-26 lead six minutes into the second half. The Mavericks pushed the lead to 20 with 10:50 left and led by double figures the rest of the way.
Michael Bear led the way with 18 points, making 10 of 10 free throws and blocked four shots.
Jeff Hart scored 11 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Shawn King added 10 points and had eight rebounds off the bench. Mike Melillo added 8 points and 11 rebounds.
“With a motion offense, it’s hard for the defense to key on one guy,” Shantz said. “If they do, it opens up for someone else.”
After a forgettable 8-18 first season, Roger Walters evened his college coaching record at .500 after Colorado Mesa’s 88-71 victory at Western New Mexico.
“It was good to get that one out of the way,” said Walters, now 30-30 overall, 22-22 in the RMAC. “It’s never an easy place to play.”
But the Mavericks played well, shooting 55 percent from the field and 50 from the 3-point line, making a season-high 11 of 22.
Even more impressive was the Mavs’ assist-to-turnover ratio, with 20 assists to only six turnovers, two more than the school record for fewest turnovers in a game.
“We functioned at a really high level,” Walters said. “They played a lot of zone in the first half but in the second they played a ton of man and pressure. The kids did a nice job of taking care of the ball. That’s what we’ve talked about with valuing each possession and they did a really good job.”
Once Katrina Selsor got a steal and hit a jumper in transition with 6:05 to play in the first half for a 33-32 lead the Mavericks didn’t trail.
They led by eight, 47-39, at the half and pushed the lead to 18 with three minutes to play.
Five players reached double figures, with Tara Gehring scoring 19, Selsor, Kelsey Sigl and Alaina Brennan 14 each and Amy Weitzeil 12.
Colorado Mesa (5-2, 3-0 RMAC) is on a five-game winning streak heading into tonight’s game at New Mexico Highlands, but could be without Sigl, their leading scorer. She got hit in the head and was showing concussion symptoms after the game.
Track & Field
Freshman Justin Wallace became the first Colorado Mesa men’s track athlete to take first place in a meet with a triple jump of 52 feet, 2 inches in the Air Force Blue & Silver Indoor Invitational.
Mesa’s Herman Gutierrez placed second in the 500-meter dash in 1 minute, 5.73 seconds and David Atiz was seventh in the 60 dash (7.02).
Cathryn Ambler led the Mesa women with a ninth-place finish in the 500 dash (1:19.09). Breanna Jones was 10th in the 300 (42.83) and Theresa Gabriel was 10th in the triple jump (36-0).