Mavs make free throws when they count to win
With five seconds on the clock Friday night and Mesa State College at the free-throw line, Colorado School of Mines coach Pryor Orser was still feeling good.
The Orediggers led 69-68.
“He’ll miss,” Orser told his bench. “He’ll miss.”
After all, Mesa State had missed time and time again from the free-throw line. Thirteen times the Mavericks hit the front of the rim, the back of the rim, off the side of the rim.
“I don’t blame him,” Mesa State men’s associate head coach Andy Shantz said of Orser’s prediction. “I’d say that too, as many as we missed. The funny thing is, we’re a good free-throw shooting team.”
Jase Herl, though, didn’t miss.
“I had that same exact situation in high school, except we had no time on the clock and I had to make two just to put it into overtime,” Herl said. “I had confidence I’d make them when it counts.”
Herl calmly hit both free throws, then deflected an inbounds pass out of bounds with 4.1 seconds to play, before Andre Carter sealed the game by stealing the next inbounds pass and streaking toward the basket. The Orediggers were called for goaltending, giving Carter the layup and a 72-69 victory.
Herl and Carter played crucial roles defensively for the Mavericks (4-2, 1-0 RMAC), taking turns shutting down Kyle Pape in the first half.
The Orediggers’ leading scorer, who averages 18.5 points a game, had only two free throws in the first half and took only four shots.
“We played him pretty much straight-up,” Shantz said. “We have good defensive players this year, and Jase brings that. He takes pride in that.
“Jase and Andre did a great job on him and Ryan Mathews got matched up on him some and he did a very good job. In the second half he hit a couple and you saw he got a little bounce in his step and was very hard to guard.”
Mines set several screens for him in the second half and he was able to find enough slivers of space to hit four 3-pointers and finish with 18 points.
“I’ve been looking forward to that all week,” Herl said of his defensive assignment. “I see the headlines, he could be the player of the year. I look forward to going against guys like that.
That’s why you come to play.”
That first-half defense on Pape allowed the Mavericks to claw back from an early deficit and lead by 10 points, 41-31, at halftime, thanks to two buzzer-beaters.
With 8:30 left in the first half, Carter fired up a 3-pointer as the Mavericks’ bench was counting down the shot clock.
When they got to 2, Carter, with a defender in his face, let fly, hitting nothing but net to tie the game at 18-18.
From there, the Mavericks, who tried to force the action inside early against the Orediggers, seemed to loosen up from the perimeter.
Once Michael Bear hit a baby hook in the lane for a 29-27 lead, the Mavericks steadily built the lead, and the Orediggers were out of sorts offensively.
And with the game clock running down, Mathews, from the same spot on the floor as Carter’s clutch 3, netted another bucket for a 10-point lead, 41-31, at the half. Mathews finished with 14 points and Herl 11.
In the second half, though, Mesa State went cold from the field and went more than five minutes without scoring.
The Mavs’ lead evaporated, and when Pape hit an open 3 after missing a shot but getting another chance when Levi Hamilton grabbed an offensive rebound, Mines led 56-55.
The game went back and forth from there, right down to the final seconds.
And although the Mavericks went only 20 of 33 from the free-throw line (Mines was 16 of 19), they made four crucial ones down the stretch.
Kurt Bangle, who finished with 13 points, was fouled and hit a pair to cut the lead to 69-68 with 1:20 remaining.
Gordon Galloway missed a jumper with 39 seconds left and Bangle grabbed the rebound, setting up Herl’s game-winning drive to the basket.
The Mavericks have today off before playing a rare Sunday afternoon game, tipping off against Colorado Christian at noon at Brownson Arena.