Mesa women look to finish strong

Sometimes you can win on talent alone.

The end of the season, however, is not that time.

“That was our biggest thing,” said Kelsey Sigl, the leading scorer for the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team. “It was talking and talking all season long and now I think we’re finally putting that into action the last couple of weekends.

“Our biggest focus the last couple of weekends was that we’re going to make a statement and start playing like we were at the beginning of the year. That’s definitely shown.”

Friday night, Fort Lewis downed Metro State 64-48, clinching a tie for the conference championship for CMU, which has a three-game lead on the Roadrunners with three games to play.

The Mavericks (22-1, 18-1 RMAC) have rattled off four decisive wins since they were upended three weeks ago by Colorado Christian, their only loss of the season.

“They understand it’s going to take everybody,” CMU coach Taylor Wagner said. “It’s not just one or two or three players. It’s everybody. We can all have the same joy.

“(Wednesday) at practice I told them everybody has the same responsibility and accountability to come to practice and play hard, whether you play 40 minutes or are a redshirt, you have to give the same effort. We’re on the right track.”

Wagner said since the Mavs’ loss they’ve had two of their best weeks of practice since early in the season. The players are relaxed, laughing and chatting when they stretch, and have been having 3-point shooting contests before practice, with Wagner joining in.

“It should be exciting for them. We don’t want it to be so serious,” he said. “We’ve got work to do and we’ve got to get it done, but we need to enjoy the journey as well. I think they’ve been able to do that.”

However, the Mavs will get serious tonight when they play at Western State Colorado (4-19, 4-15) in Gunnison.

The Mavericks lead the Western Slope rivalry series 49-26 and tonight can win the RMAC title they’ve been eyeing since last season ended.

“Oh, yeah,” Sigl said, glancing at the banner above the floor. “Honestly, it comes down to us taking care of business the next two weekends and hopefully we get it.”

Wagner has cautioned the Mavericks not to take Western lightly — the Mountaineers have struggled under first-year coach Van Girard, but have won three of their past four games.

As expected, the Mavericks, ranked fourth in the nation, are ranked No. 1 in the South Central Region. Wagner had another message for his team this week:

“I told the team the other day, ‘You deserve it, now you’ve gotta go earn it.’ ”


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