Mesa men end home season with win
They knew if they didn’t come to play with intensity Saturday night, the Mavericks’ victory over Fort Lewis College on Friday night would mean nothing.
The Mesa State College men’s basketball team made it mean something. Mesa won for the ninth time in its past 10 games, defeating Adams State 69-56 at Brownson Arena to remain in striking distance of New Mexico Highlands for the RMAC West Division title.
“If we don’t come out and play just as hard tonight as last night, the game against Fort Lewis isn’t going to mean anything,” Mesa State junior Sean Flohr said. “We’re just trying to win out and play solid basketball the rest of the way. The coaches challenged us not to have any letdowns.”
The Mavericks (15-10, 12-5 RMAC) play New Mexico Highlands (19-6, 13-4) on Friday in a game that could determine the RMAC West Division champion.
The Cowboys held on to defeat Western New Mexico 78-77 and Fort Lewis (21-7, 12-5) kept pace with an 87-70 victory over Western State.
Adams State (4-21, 1-16) hung with Mesa for the first 20 minutes, sticking close to Ryan Mathews and staying out of foul trouble in a 24-24 deadlock.
The teams exchanged leads three times in the early going of the second half until Flohr hit a 3-pointer for his first bucket of the night and was fouled. He finished the four-point play for a 35-32 lead.
“He comes off the bench and gives us a big boost,” Mathews said. “He’s a threat every single night.”
Florh’s play ignited an 18-4 run that carried the Mavericks to victory.
“Adams State does a great job defensively,” Mesa State coach Jim Heaps said. “They’re hard to attack. They really took us out of any comfort zone offensively, especially in the first half.
“I thought Jase (Herl) did a great job of getting the ball in the middle of the zone and passing the ball to the post players. That kind of got us going a little bit and we started to knock down some 3s. No matter what you do in a zone, you’re going to give up some 3s. If they go in, then you got a chance.”
Mathews, who was limited to one field goal and five points in the first half, hit three 3-pointers during the run and finished with a game-high 21 points. Jake Swartzendruber added 14 points and eight rebounds.
“Last night and the first half tonight, I was trying to force a lot of stuff,” Mathews said. “A lot of teams are switching now and guarding me wherever I go. Tonight, I calmed down a little bit and used my teammates. Once I hit one, I can get going.”
Mesa kept the lead in double figures the rest of the way, drawing 14 fouls in the second half and making 14 of 19 free throws. The Mavs hit 20 of 28 for the game (71.4 percent).