Mavericks outlast Orediggers
Taylor Wagner was not pleased with the Colorado Mesa women’s basketball team’s effort Saturday night, and that includes himself.
“It starts with me. I’ve done a horrible job preparing them,” the CMU coach said after the Mavericks gutted out a 67-61 victory over Colorado School of Mines in Golden to remain undefeated.
“If we don’t play inspired basketball, that’s my fault. If they don’t get excited to play, that’s my fault. We’ve gotta step it up. I’ve gotta step it up.”
The fifth-ranked Mavericks (12-0, 8-0 RMAC) stepped it up just enough to hold off the Orediggers (3-8, 2-5) in their second straight down-to-the-wire game. Friday, it took a buzzer-beating shot. Saturday, it was anybody’s game with three minutes to go.
Aubry Boehme made a layup with 2:15 to play for a 61-55 lead that gave the Mavericks enough of a cushion, and Christen Lopez and Sharaya Selsor combined to go 6 for 6 at the free-throw line in the final 1:35.
It was the start of the game that had Wagner the most upset, when the Mavericks committed two fouls and had one turnover in the first 21 seconds.
“We should not ever start slow,” Wagner said of his all-senior starting lineup. “We should not ever start with a bunch of turnovers. We’ve got that senior leadership, let’s use it.”
After those early miscues, the Mavericks got going midway through the first half, sparked by freshman point guard Erin Reichle, who hit a 3-pointer for a 15-13 lead.
Mesa steadily built the lead and was up 30-20 at halftime when Lopez scored with 1:44 left after the Mavericks retained possession when Mines’ Taylor Helbig blocked a shot. Lopez finished with 16 points, tying her career high at CMU.
A seven-point run by the Orediggers in the second half made it 36-33, and Mines refused to go away.
The Mavericks eased the lead back to eight points on another layup by Boehme, who scored 14 points for the Mavericks. Selsor, the leading scorer in the RMAC, led all scorers with 19 points.
Wagner said his team is still trying to figure out how to play as the favorite.
“The big thing is we’re getting everybody’s best, and we haven’t adjusted yet,” he said. “We still think we’re in November, and everybody is playing conference (games) and we’re in the preseason. We’ve got to step up our game.”
It doesn’t get any easier with CSU-Pueblo and CU-Colorado Springs coming to Grand Junction this week. The Mavericks face Pueblo (10-3, 7-0) on Thursday night and CU-Colorado Springs on Friday.
The ThunderWolves held off CU-Colorado Springs 65-64 on Saturday. The Mountain Lions (4-7, 3-4) were picked to win the RMAC title this season by the conference coaches.
“These kids don’t realize how great it is, what they’re doing,” Wagner said. “It’s got me confused a little bit why we don’t come out and play inspired when we’re in there.
“It’s a gut-check for all of us. Do we want to be great or just average? This is the turning point of the season.
“We’ve got a big game next week against Pueblo. That’s gonna be huge for the standings and for the championship. We’ve gotta be a little bit better, and I think it starts with me.”