Mavs lose heartbreaker to Kearney

The break the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team needed Friday night went right into the hands of Nebraska-Kearney’s Shelby Zimmerman.

Clinging to a three-point lead with eight seconds remaining and with Tara Gehring at the free-throw line, CMU coach Roger Walters called time to make sure everyone was on the same page.

The other four Mavericks went to the defensive end of the floor, setting up at the 3-point line. When Gehring, who made the first free throw, missed the second, she hustled back as the Lopers raced down the court. The ball went to one side of the arc and the Mavericks were there.

Then the inexplicable happened — Zimmerman got free at the top of the key and the ball found her. Just before the horn went off, she shot, and her 3-pointer snapped the net, tying the game and sending it to overtime.

The Lopers controlled the overtime, winning 75-70.

“It’s sad,” Walters said. “I just feel bad for the kids. I know we had everybody wanting to make sure we defended the arc. That was the whole idea with having four kids on the arc waiting to defend. I don’t know what happened; I haven’t looked at the film.”

But, he said, the game wasn’t lost in those final seconds of regulation.

The same problems the Mavs have had during their current skid (losing six straight and nine of their past 10) popped up again: turnovers and missed free throws.

CMU (8-12, 6-10 RMAC) shot only 60 percent from the free-throw line, making nine of 15, and turned the ball over 22 times.“We left six freebies out there,” Walters said.

Kearney (6-15, 6-10) had 21 turnovers, but hit every free throw the Lopers attempted — 14 of 14, with Vanessa Leeper Jones going 10 for 10 and scoring 30 points, all but six in the first half.

“She’s really scrappy and does a good job,” Walters said. “We did a good job on her in the second half.”

At the end of regulation, the Mavericks had the ball and a two-point lead with 34 seconds left after Leeper Jones missed a jumper. The ball went out of bounds to the Mavericks, who inbounded the ball to Kelsey Sigl, trying to get the Lopers to foul her.

Instead, the Lopers forced a jump ball, with the Mavs keeping possession, then inbounded to Gehring, a 73.5 percent free-throw shooter.

Sigl finished with 22 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals, Amy Weitzeil had 11 points, Hanna Bowden 10 points and 14 rebounds and Leanndra Gilbert 10 points off the bench.

“If it comes down to free throws (tonight against Chadron), I’d want her at the line again,” Walters said.

The Mavericks spent the night in Kearney, which was hit by a winter storm, moving Friday’s games up two hours, and hope to leave for Chadron this morning, depending on the road conditions.

“We functioned at a really high level tonight with the crew we had on the floor. We turned it over a couple of times when we shouldn’t have; it was an accumulation of things,” Walters said. “We lost it throughout the course of the game. It’s just the way it is.

“We played really well, we just came up a little short.”


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