Mesa women have clinched spot in RMAC tournament
The conference office hasn’t noted it on the standings, but with five games to play, the second-ranked Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team has clinched a spot in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament.
In fact, the Mavericks have clinched a first-round home game and can finish no worse than second in the conference.
If the Mavericks (21-0, 17-0 RMAC) sweep New Mexico Highlands and Western New Mexico at Brownson Arena this weekend, they will clinch a tie for the regular-season conference championship and the top overall seed in the playoffs. Mesa holds the tiebreaker over second-place CSU-Pueblo, which is 13-3 in conference play.
The highest-seeded team advancing to the tournament semifinals hosts the RMAC Shootout on March 7-8. The quarterfinals are March 4 at the four highest seeds.
The Mavericks remained No. 2 in the WBCA Top 25 on Tuesday, with two first-place votes. Mesa is one of only four undefeated teams in the top two divisions (Connecticut, Notre Dame in Division I, Bentley, Mass., and CMU in Division II). Six NCAA Division III schools are undefeated.
The first South Central Regional ranking will be released Feb. 19, the first of three weekly polls before the regional selections are announced March 9.
The regional rankings determine the eight qualifiers to the first round of the national playoffs. The tournament champions from the RMAC, Lone Star and Heartland conferences receive automatic bids, with the highest ranked team in the region hosting.
Right now, the race looks to be between Colorado Mesa and West Texas A&M, which is 19-1 and ranked fifth in the nation.
The Buffs lead the Lone Star Conference and are coached by former Fort Lewis coach Mark Kellogg, who took the Skyhawks to the national championship game in 2010.
Kellogg left Fort Lewis after the 2012 season for Northwest Missouri State before returning to his home state of Texas this season.
West Texas A&M leads the nation in scoring margin (+22.7), with Mesa fifth (+20.6).
Metro State remained No. 1 in the National Basketball Coaches Association Division II poll with victories over Colorado School of Mines and Colorado Christian last weekend.
The Roadrunners (20-1, 17-0 RMAC) received 15 of the 16 first-place votes.
Colorado Mines (18-3, 14-3) dropped two spots to No. 13 with the loss to Metro State.
Colorado Mesa wrestler Paco Retana earned the RMAC Wrestler of the Week honors after getting two pins in the first period last week.
The 197-pound junior pinned Adams State’s Dakota Bencomo in two minutes and 30 seconds on Friday night then Retana pinned CSU-Pueblo’s Riley Argyle, a junior college All-American, in 1:44.
Retana leads the 13th-ranked Mavericks with 10 pins this season.
Colorado Mesa (10-4, 4-2 RMAC) wrestles Thursday night at No. 8 Western State Colorado (9-2, 6-1 RMAC).
Western State can clinch the RMAC dual championship title with a victory. Olathe High School graduates Kyle Piatt and Zach Shank will likely start for the Mountaineers.
— Allen Gemaehlich contributed to this report.