Mesa men win again in basketball
This group doesn’t worry when it can’t quite shake an opponent.
No, the Mesa State College men’s basketball team just keeps working, and sooner or later, the Mavericks get the play they need.
“They don’t (panic),” associate head coach Andy Shantz said Saturday night after the 24th-ranked Mavericks pulled away for a 79-68 victory at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. “I was waiting for it. You’re kind of waiting with bated breath and all of a sudden there’s a two-minute stretch where we hit a couple of 3s, get a couple of steals and score points in a short amount of time.”
That time came with about nine minutes left in the game and the Mavericks up 63-58.
Sean Flohr missed a free throw but Mike Dominguez latched onto the offensive rebound and put it back up, then, after Chris Deans hit a 3 for the Lopers, Dominguez answered with his own 3 and the Mavericks (12-1, 6-0 RMAC) pulled away.
Neither team could shake the other, not even when Brian Kenshalo hit a jumper in the paint for a 10-point lead, 71-61, with 6:40 to play. The Lopers cut it to six but didn’t make a field goal the final 4:29 of the game.
That allowed the Mavericks to get the lead back to double figures and remain undefeated in conference play.
Dominguez continued his outstanding senior season, scoring 28 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
Senior point guard Aaron Markham, though, was the key. He didn’t commit a turnover — the Mavs only had 10 total — and had two steals and a pair of assists, but he scored a dozen points, well over his season average of 5.1.
“He’s one of our best cutters,” Shantz said. “With his size (6-feet) he’s an outstanding finisher at the basket for how big he is. He’s crafty and he cuts so well.”
“We were having a hard time scoring over the 6-10 kid (Josiah Parker) so I told our post players to move up to the high post to open up the basket and Aaron got it going on basket cuts and hit layups. That’s a kid who’s been in our program five years and he’s figured out how to help us the best he can.”
Even when the Mavericks were able to take a lead, the Lopers kept coming back — until Dominguez grabbed that offensive rebound.
“I think it was on a one-and-one and Mike got an offensive rebound and a stick-back,” Shantz said. “That deflated them. He’s so athletic and is a real heady player. Obviously he’s really good, but sometimes your best players aren’t your smartest players. That sets him apart. He makes plays, all of them do. They do a good job of staying with it and staying together when they’re down.”
It only took three minutes for the Mavericks to lose control of the game in a 74-62 loss to Nebraska-Kearney.
Mesa State had a four-point lead in the second half with just more than 15 minutes to play, 45-41, after Megan Selvidge hit a 3-pointer. It was tied 47-47 with 12:29 to play, but the Mavs committed a couple of turnovers and the Lopers built a seven-point lead over the next three minutes.
“We didn’t take care of the ball for a little bit and gosh, about the 7-minute mark, I think it was still pretty tight,” Mesa State coach Roger Walters said. “We turned it over three consecutive times and I think they scored all three times. It got to double figures pretty quick, but for 30 minutes, that’s as good as we’ve played all year long.”
A 25-11 run by Kearney (3-9, 3-3 RMAC) put the game well out of reach — Mesa State (2-9, 1-5) went four minutes without a field goal and found itself down by 18 points with less than four minutes to play.
The Mavericks were once again without their leading scorer, Jennifer Landers, because of grade problems.
“As far as I know she’s academically ineligible,” Walters said of Landers, who averages 11.3 points a game. “It’s still up in the air, she’s talking to one of her professors (about a grade), but that’s between her and the professor.”
Kearney’s Debi Johnson, last year’s conference freshman of the year, led the Lopers with 31 points — she’s averaging just over 12 points a game this season — hitting 9 of 19 from the 3-point line.
Mesa State, which lost its fourth straight game, was led by Hannah Breidel, who had 13 points, and Katie Cupp, who added 10.
“Tonight we did some good stuff,” Walters said. “It was encouraging. Kearney had to play well to beat us.”
Six Mesa State wrestlers placed in the Utah Valley Open in Orem, Utah.
Senior Chase Walker took second place, reaching the 157-pound final before losing a 7-4 decision to Wyoming’s Jimmy Belleville.
Sophomore Rhett Breed made the 141-pound final before losing a 5-1 decision to Utah Valley’s Wyatt Ray.
Freshman Chasen Tolbert, wrestling unaffliated with the Mavericks because of eligibility issues, reached the 125-pound final.
Mesa’s Kory Kennedy placed third at 197, Tyler Nelson placed fourth at 125 and Chris Cielinski took fourth at 184.
Chris Rubalcaba, Cole Johnson, Andy Laiminger and Shane Miller didn’t wrestle in the tournament.