Mesa has no answer for front line of Mines
Savannah Afoa didn’t let her emotions get the best of her; she wanted to play.
One day after her grandmother died, the Colorado School of Mines junior center led the women’s basketball team to a 67-49 rout of Mesa State College in each team’s RMAC opener on Friday night at Brownson Arena.
“Savannah is coming into her own,” Mines coach Paula Krueger said. “This was the best game she’s played overall. We made a couple tweaks to the offense to let her play to some of her strengths. She is really good off the dribble, which most people don’t think that when you look at her. We’ve put in a couple sets in to let her do that. A tribute to her with her grandmother passing away. She’s here and playing her guts out.”
Mesa State coach Timi Brown wasn’t available for comment.
Afoa, a 6-foot-1 junior from Anchorage, Alaska, led the Orediggers’ balanced scoring attack with 12 points and grabbed six rebounds. Emily Dalton, Brecca Gaffney and Angie Charchalis each had 10. The Orediggers’ front line of Afoa, Dalton, Gaffney and Stevie Hagemeister, who all stand 5-foot-11 or taller, combined to score 37 points.
“Emily is always solid,” Krueger said. “That’s her role to be the person when things aren’t going so good to put her on her back. She’s a tough matchup for a guard because she’s big and she’s a tough matchup for a post because she’s quick. Our freshman, Katy Carty, didn’t her best game of the year, but she alters so many things defensively. ”
Carty and the rest of the Mines defense made things extremely difficult for the Mavericks, who shot a dismal 31.7 percent from the floor.
Erin Richardson led Mesa State (3-4, 0-1 RMAC) with nine points. Stephanie Delgado had seven points and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds.
Mines (4-4, 1-0 RMAC) dominated from tip-off, getting the ball inside for easy baskets and forcing Mesa to take most of its shots from the perimeter.
“The thing about this team is we’ve been blessed with some length, both on the perimeter and the inside,” Krueger said. “We felt like if we could contain the penetration and let our 5 stay at home and truly guard their 5, we’d have a pretty good shot to beat them. We wanted to limit (Delgado’s) touches and let someone else try to win the game.”
Mines attacked the basket from the start beginning with Afoa, who scored on her first touch, building a 15-7 lead. The Orediggers pushed their lead to 23-11, before Mesa went on an 8-2 run with a couple of Heather Habekost steals. She had five for the game, all in the first half. Jennifer Landers hit two shots and Alaina Brennan scored two points in the run, but that was as close as the Mavericks would get.
Mines went on an 11-5 run to close the first half with more buckets inside the paint.
The Orediggers shot 62.5 percent from the floor in the first half and limited Mesa to 33.3 percent.
Peanut Eickelman opened things up for Mines to start the second half with a 3-pointer and kept the lead in double figures the rest of the way.
The Mavericks had several second chance points, but it didn’t matter with Mines shooting 56.8 percent for the game.
Mesa State forced 23 turnovers, had 11 steals and grabbed 33 rebounds, including 19 on the offensive end, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a 31.7 field goal percentage.
“Mesa rebounded harder than any team we’ve played,” Krueger said. “That was the first time we were outrebounded by anybody. You’ve got to give credit to Mesa, but when you shoot 57 percent, there are not as many rebounds to get.”