Hot shooting helps ThunderWolves top Mavericks

Hot shooting helps ThunderWolves top Mavericks

Colorado Mesa’s Kevin Screen defends CSU-Pueblo’s Bryse Velasquez on Friday night during the second half of the Mavericks’ 68-65 loss at Brownson Arena. Velasquez scored 12 points for the ThunderWolves.



QUICKREAD

CSU-PUEBLO 68, COLORADO MESA 65

UP NEXT: UC-Colo. Springs at Colorado Mesa, 7:30 p.m. today, Brownson Arena



Colorado Mesa and Colorado State-Pueblo were slugging it out in a defensive battle when suddenly the ThunderWolves’ offense clicked.

By the time Pueblo cooled down, it was too late as the CSU-Pueblo men’s basketball team picked up its second road win of the season, upending the Mavericks 68-65 on Friday night at Brownson Arena.

“They played great,” CMU coach Jim Heaps said. “They came out and hit shots. There’s not going to be a lot of people (that) hit 50 percent from the 3.”

Colorado Mesa (7-6, 5-4 RMAC) is on a three-game losing streak. The Mavericks play a CU-Colorado Springs team on a five-game winning steak at 7:30 tonight at Brownson Arena. The Mountain Lions defeated Western State 66-62 on Friday night in Gunnison.

“This is athletics,” CMU senior Michael Bear said. “Adversity happens. Teams can either fragment and start playing timid or come together and get better because of it. That’s what we’re planning on doing.”

Bear led the Mavericks with 25 points. Mike Melillo and Nate Nelson each scored 10 off the bench.

Arden Dennis led the ThunderWolves with 21 points. He made 5 of 7 3-pointers and hit all four attempts in the second half.

Andre Martin scored 15 points; Bryse Velasquez added 12 and Ty Trahern had 10 for the ThunderWolves.

CSU-Pueblo (7-5, 4-4 RMAC) shot 64.7 percent from the floor in the second half, including 57 percent on 3-pointers to rally from a 33-27 halftime deficit.

“I thought we guarded well in the first half,” Heaps said. “I don’t know what to tell you. You’re sixth in the country in field goal percent (defense) and you allow they to shoot 64 percent.

“They got on a roll and made shots, it just never happened at this rate. Sometimes you have to tip your hat to them.”

The ThunderWolves went on an 18-9 run to open the second half to take a 45-42 lead with 12 minutes left.

Dennis hit his third 3-pointer of the second half for a 48-45 lead, then hit another on the next possession for a 51-47 lead.

“They relied on their 3-point shooting for sure,” Bear said. “They hit some pretty tough shots. We contested most of them. It came down to missing free throws and layups that played a factor.”

The Mavericks played catch-up the rest of the way.  The closest they got was two points after a Bear 3-pointer with 1:27 left.

CSU-Pueblo ate up 27 seconds on its next possession before Velasquez scored on a layup for a 64-60 lead.

Velasquez and Martin each made both of their free throws to seal the victory; the Mavs made 2 of 4 in the final minute.

Mesa made only 8 of 16 free throws in the second half and shot 63.6 percent from the foul line for the game. Mesa entered the game third in the RMAC in free throw percentage (71.4).

“I can’t explain it,” Heaps said. “That’s what happened. We didn’t play well enough to win tonight.”

Kevin Screen hit a half-court shot as time expired.

Nelson got the Mavericks going early, with a 3-pointer, putback and two free throws in a four-minute stretch. Mesa led 17-13.

“I was trying to be active and bring a spurt to the team so we can get it going in the first half,” Nelson said.

The Mavericks went on a 12-6 run to close out the first half and lead 33-27 at halftime. Landon Vermeer and Blake Francom contributed during the run. Mesa led by as many as nine points late in the first half.

“We have to stick together and listen to what the coaches are saying,” Nelson said. “If we start pointing fingers we’ll be on a roller coaster downhill.

“If we stick together, we can turn this around. This is a good lesson to help us toward the end of the season when we’re down.”


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