In the zone
Pollart beats CCU's 2-3 zone for season high in points, rebounds in Mavs' win
The back side of a 2-3 zone is basketball’s Achilles heel.
Hannah Pollart made it her personal playground Saturday night.
“I was kinda feeling it,” the 5-foot-11 senior forward for the No. 2 Colorado Mesa women’s basketball team said with a grin after scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, both season highs, in the Mavericks’ 74-61 RMAC victory over Colorado Christian at Brownson Arena. Pollart was averaging 5.9 points and 6.4 rebounds a game.
With the Cougars using the zone to try to take Aubry Boehme out of the equation inside and force Sharaya Selsor and the guards to beat them from the perimeter, it was Pollart’s night.
“That zone, the weak side, they weren’t blocking out and I just had rebounds for days,” Pollart said.
Her seven offensive rebounds led to second-chance points and allowed the Mavericks to stay with CCU (10-9, 8-7 RMAC) in the first half until they made a couple of defensive adjustments.
“It was so important, we had to come out and be better defensively,” CMU coach Taylor Wagner said. “When we do that, the shots start to fall and the ball movement’s better, we take care of the ball better.”
The Mavericks (19-0, 15-0) shot only 35 percent in the first half and made only two of 12 from the 3-point line, which was just what the Cougars wanted.
“Those 2-3 zones, you’d think those kids would just love it, but it’s a mental thing,” Wagner said. “We can always play great defense, we can always take care of the basketball, and when we do those things, even on an off shooting night, we can still play well enough to win.”
Boehme got into early foul trouble, but Hanna Bowden came up with some big minutes inside, scoring five of her seven points in the first half, including grabbing an offensive rebound off a missed 3 and putting it back in to tie the game at 32-32 with 1:17 to play.
Another offensive rebound by Bowden led to a jumper by Selsor, and the teams were tied 34-34 at halftime.
Pollart’s size and strength inside were a matchup problem for the Cougars, and early in the second half she battled for an offensive rebound, knocking it off a CCU player before it went out of bounds. The Mavs retained possession and she scored off another offensive board for a 45-41 lead just more than four minutes into the second half.
That prompted a CCU timeout, and the Cougars tied the game on back-to-back buckets, but the Mavericks suddenly got the sellout crowd behind them and they took off on an 8-0 run. Pollart missed a 3 from the top of the key, but chased the carom down in the corner and Bowden finished the play inside for a 53-45 lead with 11:10 to play.
Another offensive rebound and bucket by Pollart and a nice step-through layin by Selsor, who got trapped on the block but found just enough room to get to the basket, made it 57-51 and the best was yet to come.
“There were a couple of times we went on runs and they’d kind of creep back,” Pollart said. “Coach told us all week it’s going to take 40 minutes, 40 minutes. We just had to keep grinding, keep grinding and keep trying to get stop, bucket, stop, bucket. Finally we broke through.”
Taylor Rock took a charge on Christina Whitelaw with six minutes left, then buried a 3 from the corner for a 10-point lead.
After a Colorado Christian turnover, Rock hit a deep 3 from the wing, and the crowd erupted.
“What was so important was the crowd got behind us,” Wagner said. “That propelled us to another level and thank goodness for them; that really helped us.”
It got even louder when Christen Lopez hit the floor and swatted the ball to Boehme, who fed it to Selsor on the break. She missed her first shot, but got the second to fall for a 68-53 lead with 4:22 left.
Selsor finished with 23 points, seven assists and nine rebounds. Lopez added a dozen points.
“That’s what I felt like, if we could get up to 7, 8, that’s like a 20-point lead in this game,” Wagner said. “I felt like once we got up like that, just now get a stop, go down, execute and make sure we get a good shot, and the girls did that.”
The win over CCU avenged last season’s only conference loss of the season for the Mavericks, and broke the school record of 19 straight wins to open the season.
“Our returners told us we can’t let it happen again,” Pollart said. “We said OK and we got ‘er done. We got your back.”
Wagner chuckled when reminded of the 19th straight win.
“I didn’t even think about it, but that’s good, good for the team, good for the program,” he said. “I think we had so many milestones last year this team doesn’t care about anything except the end prize. We don’t talk about it; we just want to get better and get the big one.”