Mesa State edges Metro in basketball

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—FILE PHOTO—Cyndi Scherping of Grand Junction traipses over a bridge packed with three feet of snow as she snowshoes back to Mesa Lakes Lodge on the West Bench Trail on the Grand Mesa.

There was no big celebration Saturday night, only a couple of fist pumps and grins from the Mesa State College men’s basketball team.

You wouldn’t have known the Mavericks had just knocked off 12th-ranked Metro State 61-56 in the final game of the Clarion Inn Thanksgiving Tip-off at Brownson Arena.

“We’re expecting to win,” senior guard Mike Dominguez said. “We didn’t come in thinking if we beat them it’s an upset.”

A couple of critical stops on defense, a key 3-pointer, good free-throw shooting down the stretch — and the long arms of Dominguez — helped the Mavericks maintain control when the Roadrunners were desperately trying to come back.

“I’ve seen a lot of teams over the years get a double-digit lead and you give it up and go down three and it’s pretty easy to fold the tent and lose and say, ‘Geez,we had it. We played tough for 30 minutes,’ ‘’ Mesa State coach Jim Heaps said.

“We got down three and had two or three stops without scoring but I never got a sense of panic or anything else. We had our run and opened it up a little bit and held on at the end.

“It was a real good display of maturity and composure.”

In the final minute, after Metro pulled within three points off a steal at midcourt, that maturity paid off.

Sean Flohr’s 3-point attempt rattled out, but Russell Gregory grabbed the offensive rebound and fed it to Jase Herl, who was cutting through the lane. He was fouled from behind and hit one of two free throws with 22.7 seconds left for a 59-55 lead.

After Donte Nicholas hit one of two free throws with 15 seconds remaining for Metro, those long arms of Dominguez came into play.

Flohr was trapped on the sideline at midcourt and tried to throw a leading pass to Dominguez running down the middle of the floor. He led him a little too much — almost.

Almost as if they were made of elastic, Dominguez’s arms shot forward and snared the pass.

“Oh, man,” Dominguez said. “I was running and I thought he was going to lead me perfect and it was like go-go-gadget arms.

“I knew they were going to foul or try to get a steal and I wanted to keep it away from them. I wanted the ball in my hands. I trust myself at the free-throw line. I knew if they fouled me, I’d hit the free throws.”

He did, icing the game.

The Mavs built a 34-19 lead in the first half, but Metro scored the final seven points, including a bank 3 from midcourt by Reggie Evans, who led all scorers with 20 points.

Metro held the Mavs scoreless for nearly five minutes early in the second half to chip away, and with just less than six minutes left, a three-point play by A.J. Flournoy gave Metro a 49-46 lead.

Dominguez, who led the Mavs with 15 points (all 10 Mavericks scored)  answered with a 3 after Gregory stole an inbounds pass.

Gregory netted his only shot of the game, a crucial 3 from the wing with 2:09 to play for a 56-51 Mesa State lead and the Mavs hit five of six free throws to put it away, leading to those clinched fists and smiles.

“We talk about that whole concept,” Heaps said. “You go crazy and tear the goalposts down, you didn’t expect to win. If we don’t expect to win we shouldn’t be going out there.

“I never understood that. You’re happy, you celebrate, but they have more goals than that.”

CSU-Pueblo 84, Central Methodist 64: Chris Busch scored 26 points to lead the ThunderWolves, whose size and quickness was too much for the Eagles.

One night after shooting 62 percent against Mesa State, the Eagles shot only 43 percent against CSU-Pueblo.

Daniel Pierce had 14 points and Marc Williams 12 for CSU-Pueblo (2-1). Matt Sherman had 17, Jake Prosser 12 and Brock Edris 11 for Central Methodist (6-4).


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