Mavs rally from early deficit, roll past UCCS
It wasn’t by design that the Colorado Mesa women’s basketball team spotted CU-Colorado Springs a 10-point lead Friday night.
The fifth-ranked Mavericks were sluggish on defense, scattered on offense and only five minutes into the game were down 10-0.
A 30-second timeout by Taylor Wagner, and the resulting discussion, seemed to snap the Mavericks out of whatever funk they were in. Colorado Mesa (14-0, 10-0 RMAC) outscored the Mountain Lions 33-8 the rest of the half on the way to a 64-46 victory at Brownson Arena.
“Pretty much everything we talked about all week,” Wagner said of what he told the Mavericks during that early timeout. “That’s the most frustrating part. We watched last night be probably the best game we’ve played all year long and how quickly we can forget what our responsibilities are.”
After committing only six turnovers the night before, the Mavericks had five in the first five minutes Friday. They missed their first five shots against the Mountain Lions’ aggressive, scrappy defense, and after point guard Christen Lopez picked up her second foul, her backup picked her up.
Freshman Erin Reichle buried a 3-pointer to finally get the Mavericks on the board. Reichle wasn’t done, though, scoring a career-high 13 points, including snatching a loose ball and hitting a shot from just inside the 3-point line with one second left in the first half.
“You kinda have to do that, not worry about too much, just try to take care of the ball,” Reichle said of her extended playing time with Lopez in foul trouble. “I just try to use Christen as my model. She’s such a great point guard, does all the right things. I just try to do what she does, and hopefully it’s successful.”
The Mavericks’ turnaround came about because of one thing: defense.
“They were aggressive and scrappy with us, and at times we didn’t respond,” Wagner said, “especially with the defense part. We just weren’t there. We still held them to 46 points, which is really great, but it could have been better.
“We expect such a high standard. When we look at the numbers sometimes we go, ‘Oh, only won by 18, bad game.’ Or ‘Sharaya’s (Selsor) numbers, only 13 points, bad game.’ No. She got guarded, and they did a good job, and she held (Abby) Kirchoff to two points in the first half and did a great job. That’s the nature of playing conference basketball.”
The Mountain Lions (5-8, 4-5) were physical with Selsor, who kept attacking the basket and also hit a couple of crucial jumpers to help open up things inside for Aubry Boehme, who led the Mavericks with 20 points.
Selsor and Kirchoff, the top two scorers in the conference — and second and third in the nation — went at each other all night. Kirchoff finished with 17 points, seven coming at the free-throw line.
Selsor didn’t have a great shooting night, but she finished with six rebounds, four assists and two steals in the Mavericks’ 30th consecutive home win.
Boehme dominated the paint early in the second half to help the Mavericks extend the lead to 23 points, their biggest of the game — a 33-point swing from the opening minutes.
After Selsor buried a 3-pointer, the paint opened up for Boehme and Hannah Pollart, who combined for nine straight CMU points. Boehme’s three-point play made it 43-20, and after Kirchoff answered for UCCS, Boehme hit a jumper from the wing.
“In practice the past week some of the girls and I have stayed after, just working on feeding it in and passing it back out, and honestly it’s helped a lot,” Boehme said. “Christen and Taylor (Rock) and I have really talked about how I need to go get the ball. It seems like I’ve been passive and haven’t been moving my feet. I’ve really tried to work on that, and it paid off tonight.”
Perhaps no one showed Mesa’s increased defensive intensity more than Rock, who took two hard charges, sprawled on the floor for loose balls, got knocked to the floor more than once when she drove to the basket, and after the game looked like someone who could use an ice bath.
The Mavericks were a little rattled by their slow start, but once they regrouped, they didn’t let up.
“I think once they got a couple buckets on us, that usually doesn’t happen to us, so we were a little rattled, but I think we recovered very well,” Reichle said. “Once we get started, we started playing team ball, we start passing, we score, it just falls into place.”