Mavericks defeat Kirkham, UCCS
Former Mesa State College women’s basketball coach Steve Kirkham once had Alaina Brennan in camp several years ago.
The Mesa State guard impressed Kirkham back then and did again Saturday night, leading the Mavericks to a 70-59 victory over Kirkham’s current team, the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs at Brownson Arena.
“I had her in camp when she was in the seventh grade,” Kirkham said. “I knew she’d be a heck of a player. I told my kids she could hit the jumper. She was the difference in the basketball game, no question. She better do that the rest of the year.”
Brennan, who’s older sister, Brianna, played basketball with Kirkham’s daughter in high school, scored 17 points, including 11 in the second half. Courtney McCaig led Mesa with 19 points.
“It’s a fun, friendly rivalry,” Alaina Brennan said. “We wanted to show him this is the better program.”
Mesa State (3-9, 2-5 RMAC) did two things that were instrumental in the victory. The Mavericks took care of the ball and shared it with 16 assists with only 10 turnovers.
Mesa played solid defense as well, limiting the Mountain Lions to 33.9 percent shooting from the floor one night after UCCS shot 50 percent from the 3-point line and made 28 of 34 free throws in a win over Western State.
“Mary (Doane) did a nice job changing up the defense to keep them off balance,” Mesa State coach Roger Walters said. “The kids did a nice job of blocking out.”
UCCS (5-10, 2-6 RMAC) posed matchup problems for the Mavericks problems inside, with four players listed at 6-foot or taller.
“Roger had a great game plan,” Kirkham said. “We’re not very good against any kind of sagging defense. He did a good job of taking away our big kids inside.”
Mesa State opened up a seven-point lead at halftime after a Meagan Selvidge 3-pointer and a McCaig bank shot with two seconds left.
The Mavericks carried the momentum into the second half, going on a 7-0 run to take a 40-26 lead, prompting Kirkham to call timeout.
Mesa continued to take care of the ball and kept the Mountain Lions at a distance.
“We came out and played a great second half,” Walters said. “(McCaig) did great as did everyone. Alaina was spectacular at both ends.”
McCaig and Brennan combined to scored 21 of Mesa’s 37 points in the second half. McCaig, a 5-foot-11 forward, led the team with three 3-pointers, including two in the second half. She hit one to start the second half and another one to push Mesa’s lead back up to double digits with 8:37 left in the game.
“I haven’t played outside in a really long time,” McCaig said. “We went four out and one in. It’s kind of exciting getting my old game back.
“I feel more natural outside than inside. I’m a little undersized in the post.”
UCCS cut its deficit to six with one minute left, but Mesa hit 5 of 6 free throws to seal the win.