Herl lifts Mavs past ’Hawks
Every time Jase Herl made a big play — and there were several of them — down the stretch for the Mesa State College men’s basketball team Friday night, the student section chanted “M-V-P! M-V-P!”
Truth be told, the Mavericks had a bunch of MVP candidates in their 73-63 RMAC West Division victory over Fort Lewis.
The win, in a packed Brownson Arena, clinched a spot in the RMAC tournament and moved the Mavs (14-10, 11-5) into a tie with the Skyhawks (20-7, 11-5) for second place in the West, one game behind New Mexico Highlands (18-6, 12-4).
Herl took over down the stretch, scoring 14 of the Mavs’ final 19 points, including coming up with a steal and throwing down a rare dunk with 33 seconds left to seal the deal.
“I don’t know what happened there,” Herl said. “I’ve never done that before. Adrenaline rush, I guess. It was the right time to do it.”
By coach Jim Heaps’ count, that makes two dunks on the year — for the entire team.
Not only did Herl lead the Mavs with 16 points and seven rebounds, including a couple of crucial offensive boards early in the game, but he drew the defensive assignment against the Skyhawks’ talented sophomore guard, DeAndre Lansdowne. Lansdowne ended up with 24 points, but half of those came at the free-throw line.
And just for good measure, when the Skyhawks jumped into their full-court press in the second half, Herl handled the ball, allowing point guards Aaron Markham and Ryan Mortensen to help get the motion offense moving without the ball.
With Ryan Mathews and Sean Flohr blanketed on the perimeter, MVP candidate No. 2 showed up in the form Brian Kenshalo. The redshirt freshman drained four 3-pointers in rapid-fire motion, barely catching the ball before shooting.
“He was great,” Herl said. “He’s a great shooter, he does it all the time in practice. He’s young and sometimes puts too much pressure on himself instead of just coming off screens, stepping and shooting. That’s what he’s great at.”
Kenshalo finished with 13 points.
MVP candidate No. 3: Senior center Kurt Bangle, who loves playing against big guys. The bigger the better. And Kirk Archibeque, the Skyhawks’ 6-9 center, is definitely big.
“I like playing big guys,” Bangle said. “I just played tonight. I wasn’t thinking, I just went with what I know. He doesn’t like to foul, he likes to stay big and I knew if I could get around him, I could hit layups.”
Bangle isn’t the quickest guy around, but Friday, he was moving like a forward.
Bangle finished with 14 points and a half-dozen rebounds in one of his best performances of the season.
The Mavs led 54-45 when Herl hit a jumper from the wing with five seconds left on the shot clock, 4:55 on the game clock.
After Archibeque was called for 3 seconds, Herl hit a 3 from the wing, then was fouled and hit a pair of free throws with 3:05 to play for a 61-46 lead.
After Ryan Jameson hit a deep 3 for Fort Lewis, Herl rattled one home from well beyond the arc with 2:22 remaining, this one with three seconds showing on the shot clock.
Herl had the crowd rocking, and his teammates were feeding off that frenzy.
“I was just trying to get the win,” he said, grinning.