Mesa women get ‘ugly’ win vs. Highlands
During the post-game talk with his team Friday night, Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball coach Taylor Wagner drew a heart on the board.
It wasn’t because it was Valentine’s Day.
“We talked a little bit about heart, and we’ve got to show some (tonight),” Wagner said.
The second-ranked Mavericks didn’t play particularly well on either end of the floor, gave up 17 offensive rebounds, went 6 minutes and 54 seconds without scoring early in the second half, turned the ball over 18 times — and still defeated New Mexico Highlands 71-52.
The Mavericks extended their winning streak to 22 games, 33 straight at Brownson Arena.
“They were outrebounding and outhustling us, and when that happens the basketball gods didn’t let us make shots we normally make,” senior guard Sharaya Selsor said after scoring 29 points to move into ninth in career scoring with 1,295 points, ahead of Jill Teeters and Mandy Miller. “There were some weird bounces out there, but we didn’t do our job rebounding.
“It’s going to happen. But we won. We won ugly, and good teams can do that.”
All week, Wagner talked to the Mavericks (22-0, 18-0 RMAC) about two things — rebounding and eliminating turnovers.
“We talked about it all week. These two days, rebounding was one and turning the ball over,” Wagner said. “That’s what’s scary as a coach. You talk about it all week and you come out and (don’t rebound and turn the ball over), especially this late in the season.”
The Mavs’ biggest lead of the first half was 11 points, but they couldn’t shake Highlands (10-12, 6-12), which is trying to play its way into the RMAC playoffs.
A better defensive effort early in the second half led to a quick 6-2 flurry and a 41-31 lead in the first two minutes, but the Mavericks didn’t score again until Selsor made two free throws with 12:39 to play.
Amazingly, Highlands didn’t cut into the lead, making only two free throws in that stretch. The Mavericks missed four layups and a jumper, turned the ball over five times and were whistled for five fouls in that span.
It was a 10-point game with 5:41 to play, after Selsor was called for a flagrant 2 foul for hitting a Highlands defender in the face with an elbow when she was trying to clear space on a trap in the backcourt.
A flagrant 2 does not bring ejection or a suspension; it results in two free throws for the opposing team, plus possession.
Claudia Meneses was called for fouling Selsor first, but after Highlands coach Tiffany Darling pleaded her case, the officials huddled and called the flagrant on Selsor. She hit two free throws for the foul and Leisha Crawford made two for Highlands.
It wasn’t until two kick-out passes by senior post Aubry Boehme resulted in 3-pointers that the Mavericks finally got some breathing room.
Boehme, who scored 12 points, was double-teamed in the post and immediately found Taylor Rock on the wing for a 3-pointer and a 61-47 lead with 5:02 to play.
Selsor then ripped the ball out of Jenny Johnson’s hands for a steal and fed to Boehme for a transition layup.
With 3:25 to play, Boehme found Selsor at the top of the key for another 3 to put the game away, 66-47.
“That’s just it, we’re still undefeated,” Selsor said. “I don’t know what you can do other than learn from it. If you’re not making mistakes, you can’t grow. We still have to grow, and that’s OK.”