Mavs hurt by turnovers in opening loss to Chico
Up two with 20 seconds left Friday night, all the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team needed was one stop to upend Cal State-Chico.
Then Jazmine Miller hit a 3-pointer well behind the arc, dashing the Mavericks’ season opener, 62-59.
It wasn’t that 3-pointer that lost the game, though, CMU coach Roger Walters said. Committing 29 turnovers going 12 of 23 at the free-throw line cost Mesa.
“That was the ballgame right there,” he said. “Shoot, we win every category except turnovers and free throws, we’re up two with 20 seconds left and were in pretty good shape, but at the same time, we cut our own throat.”
The Wildcats’ defense contributed to many of the Mavs’ turnovers, using a zone press early to throw CMU off its game.
“I’ll tell you what, defensively that was one nasty crew,” Walters said. “They were tenacious. Their guards were unbelievably quick and physical; they were super solid defensively
“They were so athletic and quick that it gave us fits, took us out of or timing in the first half. Entering the ball and trying to get into the offense was a struggle, but the kids did a nice job in the second half.”
After a slow start, the Mavericks trailed by only two at halftime, 29-27, but went down by 10 in the first four minutes of the second half.
Kelsey Sigl hit a couple of buckets and Tara Gehring drained a 3-pointer, and after redshirt freshman forward Leanndra Gilbert (11 points) hit one of two free throws with 5:44 left, the Mavs were down only one, 48-47.
A 3 by Gehring (14 points) gave the Mavs a 50-48 lead only 15 seconds later, and it was anybody’s game after that.
With 1:07 to play, the Mavs’ Hillary Duncan stole the ball and was fouled. She hit both free throws for a 56-55 lead, but Courtney Hamilton made a backdoor cut for a layup and a 60-59 Chico lead.
Sigl, who led the Mavs with 19 points, buried a 3 with 36 seconds left for a 59-57 lead. Miller, though, answered with her deep 3 and the Mavs had the ball out of bounds with seven seconds to play.
A lob pass to Sigl went long, turning the ball over, and Miller was fouled on the ensuing inbounds play, hitting both free throws. Effo Baker’s 3-pointer at the buzzer missed.
“It just comes down to valuing the basketball, and we were reckless with it,” Walters said.
“That’s what you’re gonna get if you don’t respect the possessions. But we’re definitely better right now on the bus than we were before we got off the bus today.”