Mathews’ hot hand lifts Mavericks to win
Ryan Mathews showed he can shoot the basketball, too.
The Mesa State College senior guard followed a Nebraska-Kearney player’s career-high night against the Mavericks with 30 points to lead the Mavericks to a 77-69 RMAC victory over Chadron State on Saturday night at Brownson Arena.
“When Ryan gets going he is something else,” Mesa State coach Jim Heaps said. “He is a talented offensive player. His teammates want him to be aggressive.
“When he cuts well, he gets opportunities and doesn’t feel like he has to force it. He had five assists, too, and that tends to open things up.”
Mathews heated up in the second half, scoring 21 of his points. He had 15 points on free throws. Jake Swartzendruber added 12.
“I’m getting in a rhythm,” Mathews said. “My teammates are setting good screens and I’m in sync with the offense.”
As well as he shot the ball, the Mavericks defense was especially impressive, particularly on All-RMAC East Division preseason pick Tim McLaurin, who led Chadron State (4-9, 1-5 RMAC) with 18 points, but shot 5 of 11 from the field.
“I’m pleased with Jase Herl and the job he did on the McLaurin kid,” Heaps said. “He had 18, but he shot a low percent. He is tough to guard and Jase did a good job on him.
Everyone defended well.”
On the heels of a home loss, Mesa State came out Saturday night keyed up on defense.
As a result, the Mavericks raced to an early 14-2 lead and never looked back.
“We had to put (Friday) night behind us,” Mathews said. “(Kearney) shot 60 percent.
There’s nothing you can do about that.”
In the game’s opening five minutes, Chadron made 1 of 7 shots.
The Eagles didn’t shoot much better the rest of the first half, making 7 of 19 field goals (36.8 percent).
Mesa State led 37-27 at halftime.
“When you give up 27 in a half, you are doing something right,” Heaps said. “We came out focused. That’s hard to do after a game like (Friday) night. That makes it tough to come out and play well.”
Chadron State cut the lead to five a couple of times in the second half, but Mesa was able to push it back into double figures by drawing fouls and making free throws.
“They made a run and cut it to five,” Heaps said. “You could look and see them starting to get tired. They used so much energy on defense. We were able to knock down some free throws and hold on at the end.”
Mesa pushed the lead to 17 thanks to a technical foul on Chadron State coach Brent Bargen with 7:43 left.