Mavs use balanced scoring to top Western
It’s kind of like watching a mystery movie. You study it from all angles and then you wait for it.
Wait for it ... wait ... be patient ... ah-ha! You figure out whodunit.
Tuesday night for the Mesa State College men’s basketball team, it was a case of they all dunit.
Six players reached double figures for the No. 14 Mavericks in a methodical, physical 84-64 victory over Western State at Brownson Arena.
“We haven’t been (as balanced) the last couple of games,” Mesa State coach Jim Heaps said. “We still have a lot of depth, a lot of balance, but it’s a lot of guys with six, seven, eight points.
“I don’t know if it’s a relentlessness with our depth, but we just keep going and going and going until somebody starts hitting shots and then we have so many different players who can score.”
Yes, Michael Dominguez was again the high-point man for Mesa State, but he didn’t take a shot in the first 14 minutes of the game and didn’t score until he was fouled with 5:43 left on the clock. He finished with 16 points, eight in each half, but it was backup point guard Ryan Mortensen who triggered things.
“That says a lot about Mike,” Mortensen said. “If other players are getting it going, he’ll pass it. He’s not selfish at all. He’s just that good.”
Mortensen hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final four minutes of the first half, giving the Mavericks the lead at 23-20 with his shot from the corner, and they didn’t trail again.
Dominguez scored his first field goal on a nice curling drive to the basket. Mortensen hit another 3, Sean Flohr scored on a basket cut, getting a lead pass from Jase Herl, Dominguez added a couple of free throws and Herl a three-point play off an offensive rebound.
By the time Michael Bear hit a free throw with no time remaining in the half, Mesa State was up 36-27 and headed for its 10th straight conference victory.
“We’ve come back in some games, the Highlands game we kind of stole, but it doesn’t matter if we’re down, we just feel like we’re going to win,” Mortensen said. “I don’t know why, but it does.”
Mortensen finished with 12 points as did Brian Kenshalo, Bear and Herl had 11 each and Flohr dropped in 10 for Mesa State, which has won seven in a row as it climbs the national polls.
For the senior point guard, it’s a case of shots finding him and knowing he can make them.
“I feel pretty comfortable with it all the time, I usually don’t make as many,” he said. “We have a really unselfish team. Me and Aaron (Markham) have been here for 15 years, it seems like, and the more you play in the system, the easier it gets.”
Mesa (16-1, 10-0 RMAC) used a 21-3 run in the second half to put the game away, getting contributions from just about everybody.
“We seemed a little tentative early, almost too conscientious,” Heaps said. “Their defense had a lot to do with it. (Western State coach Mike Moskowitz) does a good job. They like to make it ugly, kind of like us, with a lot of help (defense), they bang you and are physical, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It just makes for an uglier game.
“There was no flow to it early and finally we got into a little rhythm late in the first half and in the second half.”
Flohr and Kenshalo hit 3-pointers in the decisive span, Russell Gregory added a driving three-point play, and after Bear scored on a feed from Dominguez, Western State called time down 58-40. Dominguez then stole the inbounds pass and scored for a 20-point lead.
Dominguez added a 3-pointer in transition with 7 minutes to go and got the rest of the night off.
Mesa State’s second wave of Mortensen, Flohr, Gregory, Bear and Kenshalo combined for 48 points and clamped down on Western State (3-14, 0-10 RMAC) defensively.
“They play so well together,” Heaps said of the guys coming off the bench. “They complement each other.
“We’ve got three shooters on the floor, four shooters and a post player who’s active and aggressive. It’s hard to guard. I know I haven’t figured out how to guard it yet.”