Mesa rallies, but loses eighth straight game
For about 35 minutes, the Mesa State College women’s basketball team played well enough to steal a rare victory over Nebraska-Kearney.
Unfortunately for the Mavericks, a five-minute stretch cost them that chance.
Nebraska-Kearney went on a 24-5 run to close the first half to roll to a 74-60 RMAC victory Friday night at Brownson Arena. It was Mesa State’s eighth consecutive loss.
Four players scored in double figures for Kearney (8-5, 3-2 RMAC), led by Kaitlin Petri with 18 points. Kassi Schuppe had 17, Debi Johnson 15 and Jonni Mildenberger added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Stephanie Delgado led Mesa State (3-10, 0-5 RMAC) with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. Erin Richardson and Jennifer Landers had 10 points each.
“We played 35 decent minutes well enough to win,” Mesa State coach Timi Brown said.
“They go up 16 in like two minutes. We made seven negative plays in a row and I’ve only got so many timeouts. They got a couple easy baskets and plus-ones and long rebounds.
They hit a couple open threes. It went from one-point game to 16-point game.”
Kearney (8-5, 3-2 RMAC) went to the free throw line five times during that stretch late in the first half and continued drawing fouls and hitting free throws in the second half.
The Lopers drew 25 fouls and made 24 of 30 free throws. Mesa shot 18 free throws, two in the first half.
“They’re making more than we’re shooting,” Brown said. “That’s bad defensive positioning and not being aggressive on offense.”
Kearney opened the second half with a 9-0 run to push its lead to 25.
“We wanted be aggressive being on the road and create our own opportunities,” Kearney coach Carol Russell said. “One of our game plans was run the ball in transition and our kids did that. They were aggressive to the basket. Mesa had some good looks, but we were able to keep them off the boards during that stretch too.
“We just wanted to carry it over (to the second half). Sometimes when you get leads like that you get complacent.”
The Mavericks (3-10, 0-5 RMAC) kept competing and outscored Kearney 37-26 the rest of the way.
“I love they didn’t quit,” Brown said. “They kept battling. We play hard, but at times we don’t play smart and that’s where it kills us.
“The sense of urgency we played with the last 10 minutes of the second half, that’s the sense of urgency we’ve got to bring for 40 minutes. That’s the way they compete in practice. They play hard, but going into a game we are passive, stand around on offense and defense.”
Delgado led the way, scoring 17 of her 19 points in the second half.
“Delgado was big in second half, but she didn’t assert herself in the first half,” Brown said.
“We need everybody in there for 40 minutes.”
Mesa guards Heather Habekost and Alishea Kelly did not play. Habekost is out with a concussion and Kelly is suspended indefinitely for a team violation.