Mesa’s defense enough, but Mavs struggle to score

Colorado Mesa limited the Colorado School of Mines men’s basketball team to a season-low 65 points.

That wasn’t enough for the Mavericks, who were held to a season-low 48 points in a 65-48 loss Friday night at Brownson Arena.

The Mavericks (8-10, 6-8 RMAC) have lost four consecutive games and seven of their past eight after a 7-3 start.

Mesa’s lowest point total this season prior to Friday was 58. The Mavs defeated Western New Mexico 58-53 in that game in Silver City, N.M.

The school record for fewest points scored is 45 against Adams State on Jan. 29, 2005.

The 13th-ranked Orediggers (16-2, 12-2 RMAC) entered the weekend averaging 90.1 points per game. They defeated Mesa 94-86 four weeks ago in Golden.

“We’ve got to play at a certain pace where we’re successful,” CMU coach Andy Shantz said. “If that pace gets too quick, we haven’t had success. I don’t know what exactly it is, but if it gets up and down, it doesn’t play to our benefit.

“When you’re playing a team that well-coached, it’s hard to get easy buckets. We’ve got to instill that’s how we are going to play; our culture and style of play. They’re good kids. I guarantee you they’ll respond.”

Mines had a balanced attack with four players in double figures. Brett Green led the Orediggers with 13 points.

Ryan Stephan led Mesa with 14 points and Joe Kiely had eight.

Kiely used his quickness to get to the basket and score on a couple of possessions early in the game, but the Mavericks struggled to consistently find ways to score.

“We didn’t hit shots,” Shantz said. “We took two or three (bad shots) in the first half. We addressed it at halftime, but we were inconsistent shooting the ball as of late.”

Mines went on a 13-3 run late in the first half for a 26-15 lead.

The Mavericks didn’t score a field goal for a seven-and-a-half minute stretch late in the first half.

“I think the most important thing is to not focus on one guy,” Shantz said. “You’ve got to execute. All of those guys are capable of scoring. You’ve got to execute every time down. That’s just a really good basketball team.”

Mesa opened the second half with an 8-4 run to cut the Orediggers’ lead to 10 points and forced Mines to call timeout. The Orediggers regrouped for a 7-0 run for a 42-27 lead.

“They’re extremely well-coached, and it’s a veteran group,” Shantz said. “I think four of their five starters are 23 years old. They play mature; they act mature. You could really see their maturity in the second half around that 10-minute mark. Some of their possessions they had, they made the extra pass.”

Mines maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

Shantz was pleased with the play of his defense for the most part, limiting Mines to 42.6 percent shooting from the floor.

“We really competed,” he said. “That’s a team that is scoring 90 points a game. We defended pretty well, but gave up some second-chance opportunities and a little too much at the free-throw line. I feel like the effort and the execution was much better.”

The Orediggers made up for the low shooting percentage by drawing fouls and shooting free throws, making 20 of 29.

Mesa was 4 of 9 from the free-throw line and was outrebounded 38-25.

“We tried to emphasize it during the week, but we’ve got to do a better job of getting to the free-throw line,” Shantz said. “Nine times isn’t enough.”

I felt like we threw it into the post a lot tonight, but we got into a lot of foul trouble.”

The Mavericks will face a Colorado Christian team tonight that also can score points, but the Cougars go about it in a completely different way than Mines.


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