Fast start helps Mavs hold off Colorado Christian
They knew Colorado Christian was going to press.
They knew they wanted to attack the basket and shoot layups.
And yet, time after time Friday night at Brownson Arena, the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball players passed up open shots in the paint.
Instead, they passed the ball back out as the shot clock wound down, causing the No. 13 Mavericks to force shots.
“We talked about that. We wanted to get layups, high-percentage shots, and we had times where we got the ball into the posts and the girls didn’t even look at the rim,” CMU coach Taylor Wagner said after the Mavericks held off CCU 68-58. “It was uncharacteristic, not making plays with less than 10 seconds on the shot clock. We’d have a turnover, a shot clock violation or just a horrible shot right at the end. We need to get tougher in that area and look for our shots.”
Were it not for their 14-0 start, the Mavs would have been in serious trouble.
Down the stretch, the Mavs made enough plays and hit free throws to run their winning streak to a school record-tying 11 straight to open the season.
“The girls made plays when we needed to,” Wagner said. “The games are only gonna get tougher. The more we win, the harder it’s gonna be. It’s easy to be 0-11 instead of 11-0. The girls are starting to realize we’re going to get everybody’s A game and we need to get better.”
Colorado Christian (6-4, 3-3 RMAC) missed its first 12 shots from the field, allowing the Mavericks (11-0, 7-0) to take control, but instead of putting the game away, Mesa let down on defense and sputtered on offense and the Cougars got back into the game.
Colorado Mesa allowed only 11 points in the first 15 minutes, leading 33-11. After that, the Mavericks were outscored 47-35.
“I believe we were a little hesitant because it was the first game after the break,” Bruna Deichmann said. “We were a little hesitant and we needed to get into the game.”
Handling the Cougars’ full-court pressure wasn’t a problem, but it did take time off the clock, and when the Mavericks went to run a set play, especially in the second half, it took too long. They didn’t attack the basket after breaking the press as they usually do.
“I feel like our conditioning had a little bit to play with that,” Wagner said. “We didn’t come back in the best shape and we got a little bit tired. First thing, rather than attack, we wanted to make a pass and let someone else attack the basket. We didn’t have anyone who wanted to do that consistently.”
And when they did get the ball inside, or got a stop and went to their transition game, they missed layups — 11 in all.
Neither team could do anything early in the second half, with only four points scored in the first seven minutes, but the Mavs kept the lead between 15 and 18 points until Taylor Torres found her stroke.
Despite tough defense by Sharaya Selsor, Torres hit four 3-pointers in the second half, and all of a sudden, that 18-point lead was only five, 59-54, after Torres (21 points) hit a 3 with 1:36 to play.
“She’s a great player and she’s gonna shoot her percentage,” Wagner said. “She didn’t make her shot in the first half and the second half that first one went in and she was feeling it.”
Deichmann, though, came up with a steal and hit a streaking layup with 59 seconds to play.
“We needed that layup,” she said. “We needed the free throws Sharaya knocked down at the end.”
After Deichmann’s basket, the Cougars had to foul and the Mavericks made six straight. After Sharaya Selsor’s second free throw with 10 seconds left made it 67-58, Christen Lopez stole the inbounds pass to make sure it was over.
Kelsey Sigl had 22 points for the Mavericks, but missed several minutes in the second half with foul trouble. She and Katrina Selsor, the RMAC women’s athlete of the month for December, played down the stretch with four fouls each. Katrina Selsor finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Sharaya Selsor hit a couple of key 3-pointers, was a perfect 6 for 6 from the line and scored 14 points, and Deichmann had 13 off the bench.
“The next team coming in (Colorado School of Mines tonight) knows our record, knows our ranking,” Wagner said. “They’re gonna be hungry to be the first one to take us down and we need to be able to match their energy.”