Poor shooting dooms Mavs against Western

GUNNISON — There are nights when the shots don’t fall.

On those nights, the Colorado Mesa University men’s basketball team usually makes up for it with free throws.

The Mavericks (8-7, 6-5 RMAC) couldn’t get either to go for them Friday, losing to Western State 58-57 at Paul Wright Gym.

Western State (6-9, 4-7 RMAC) limited Colorado Mesa to 35 percent shooting from the floor.

“You’ve got to make a shot at some point through the course of the game,” Heaps said. “You can’t shoot 35 percent and not get to the line (and expect to win).”

Mesa shot a season-low 16 free throws, only four in the second half. CMU made 14 of 16 foul shots.

“We shoot 37 free throws at home and go on the road and shoot zero or something close to that in the second half,” Heaps said.

Western State’s 6-foot-8, 310-pound center, Charles Joseph, was a big reason why.

“He’s big,” Heaps said. “You get tentative. If he can bang you and push and shove, it’s hard to score. It’s hard to score in a physical game like that.”

Still, the Mavericks had opportunities to score.

CMU took a 53-52 lead with 1:28 left on a layup by Michael Bear.

Western State answered with a Steven Aldridge 3-pointer for a 56-54 lead. Joseph scored inside to push the lead to four, but CMU’s Landon Vermeer hit his third 3-pointer of the night with 23 seconds left. The Mavs trailed 58-57.

CMU fouled, and Aldridge missed the front end of a 1-and-1. The Mavs had the ball with 19 seconds left, but Mike Melillo dribbled the ball off his foot.

CMU caught a break when Western turned the ball over on the inbound pass with 13 seconds left.

The Mavs got the ball to Bear, who was double-teamed in the post. His turn-around jumper missed, but Melillo rebounded, only to miss at the buzzer.

“That’s your best player shooting, so it’s as good as a chance as maybe we had, but it wasn’t a good shot,” Heaps said.

“That’s been our season,” Western coach Mike Moskowitz said. “If you look back at the four-minute mark of our games, 80 percent of them we’re winning or down by two. It was good to see us pull that one out.”

Western State didn’t allow many good looks, especially in the first half, frustrating the Mavs and Heaps. The Mavs shot 25.9 percent in the first half.

“We had a game plan of not letting them beat us in the paint,” Moskowitz said. “We did a relatively good job of doing that.”

The Mavericks played solid defense, limiting the Mountaineers to 35.7 percent shooting in the first half. The score was tied 24-24 at halftime.

Colorado Mesa made some adjustments at halftime and point guard Kevin Screen was the main beneficiary.

The sophomore scored a season-high 16 points. Bear scored 12 and Colton Burgon 11.

“They double-teamed off the point and in the post,” Heaps said. “We made some adjustments and got some layups. They hit some 3s for a stretch and we turned it over a couple times there.”


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