Mavs rise to role as spoilers in women hoops

Heather Habekost of Mesa drives for two.



It’s now a matter of pride.

With an RMAC tournament berth out of reach, the Mesa State College women’s basketball team came out playing like it still had a shot.

The Mavericks led Western New Mexico, which is in contention for an RMAC berth, from the start Thursday night in a 79-69 victory at Brownson Arena. Mesa State snapped a five-game losing streak, improving its record to 5-18 overall, 2-13 in the RMAC.

“(Wednesday) we challenged them in practice,” Mesa State coach Timi Brown said. “We asked them what do you want to do with the last five games. We can pack it in or hold ourselves accountable to a higher standard.

“A lot of people could’ve quit from the top to the bottom. We haven’t. I’m proud of that fact.

We looked like we wanted to be there and played hard.”

Stephanie Delgado led Mesa State with her fourth double-double of the season. She had 19 points and 13 rebounds. Alishea Kelly scored 14 points, Heather Habekost added 12 and Hannah Breidel 11.

Dana Alexander led the Mustangs (8-14, 6-8 RMAC) with 20 points. Audra Major hit her average of 17 points.

“We talked about it and even though we’re not going to make the playoffs, we wanted to come out and play hard,” Delgado said. “With (assistant coach Laurie) Stratton on Western New Mexico’s staff last year, we wanted to win for her too. We want to knock others out. We wanted to make a statement.”

Mesa State jumped to a 9-2 lead. Delgado, a 5-foot-11 post player, scored seven of those points.

“That was definitely key for us,” Delgado said of getting the ball inside. “I’ve said it before, but I think we do well when we work inside out. We were able to get the ball into me more,  and I’m able to get it out to our guards.”

The Mavericks pushed the lead to 10 midway through the first half and led by 12 at halftime.
Western New Mexico trailed by 17 points before going on an 18-6 run to trim the lead to single digits.

The Mavericks have let leads slip away before, but not Thursday night. They hit 10 of 10 free throws down the stretch.

“With this team, it becomes mental,” Brown said. “We needed to dig down and get some stops. We put pressure on the ball. When they made their run, we became lackadaisical on
defense.

“In the past, we would’ve folded. I think we’re starting to realize we may be better than our record indicates.”

The Mavericks shot 43 percent from the floor and outrebounded Western New Mexico 42-35. Mesa had 16 assists to 13 turnovers.

“Our guards did a good job of getting the ball into the paint and did a better job of taking care of the ball,” Brown said.

The Mavs next host No. 2 Fort Lewis on Feb. 20 and Adams State on Feb. 21 in their final home games.


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