Rock’s career night lifts Mavs to big win
Taylor Rock had a long, thin scratch under her left eye and another mark under her right.
Apparently neither bothered her vision on the floor Saturday night for the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team.
Rock hit six 3-pointers, scoring a CMU career-high 20 points to add to her impressive college resume in the fifth-ranked Mavericks’ 81-52 victory over Black Hills State at Brownson Arena.
“That’s the girl I know,” CMU coach Taylor Wagner said. “She can shoot it and once she’s open, we want her to take that shot. She’s obviously a little more comfortable now than last year.”
Rock has been involved in 96 victories the past three-plus seasons, which, according Wagner’s research, is the most wins by any college basketball player, male or female, in the state of Colorado since the 2010-11 season.
“That I did not know,” Rock said after the game. “I had a good coach, I guess, for the last 3½ years. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by good players and coaches the last three years.”
Wagner coached Rock at Otero Junior College, where the two went 59-8 and reached the 2012 NJCAA national tournament, then teamed up at CMU last season to go 31-2 and go to the NCAA Division II Elite 8.
“She’s that silent killer,” Wagner said. “I don’t think anybody knows what she’s been a part of for four years. She’s a special player, but she’s not flashy. At the end, wow, she does a great job. She does everything.”
She certainly did Friday, hitting six of seven from the 3-point line, adding a couple of free throws, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and one blocked shot — with no turnovers.
In the first half, with the Mavs up 27-13, Rock hit a 3 a good three steps behind the arc.
“That’s about normal,” Rock said with a slight grin. “It just helps when everybody is hitting shots. We go in to Aubry (Boehme) and she hits easy buckets and it opens us up. They focus on Sharaya (Selsor) and it opens everybody else up. We’ve got Hannah (Pollart) hitting shots and crashing, it just helps us get into a rhythm.”
With the Yellow Jackets (1-4, 0-2 RMAC) playing hack-a-Selsor in the first half, knocking the senior guard on every cut and bumping her when she tried to drive, the Mavericks responded with balance.
“Teams are going to start keying on her more because she’s our main offensive threat, but as long as the rest of us are contributing, they won’t be able to do that as much,” Rock said.
“There’s going to be a defensive scheme for her every game and she’s got to be ready for that,” Wagner said, “the one or two or three people who guard her.”
Right after Rock hit the long-range 3, Black Hills fouled Selsor three times in five seconds, chucking her on cuts. The third foul got the Mavericks (6-0, 2-0) into the bonus — Selsor hit both — as Mesa built a 20-point lead at halftime. Those three fouls had Selsor a little upset. The second foul pulled her headband off, and she tossed it to the sideline, got fouled again, hit the free throws and later retrieved the headband from Black Hills’ bench.
The offensive balance Wagner likes to see was evident, with four starters in double figures and the fifth with eight points.
Selsor finished with 22 points, Boehme 11 and Pollart 10, with point guard Christen Lopez scoring eight, with eight assists. Mesa scored 25 points off Black Hills’ 19 turnovers.
“I like that. It’s great someone can go off like Sharaya did (Friday) night (with 40 points), but throughout the season if you can have that (balance) that’s really good,” he said. “For us to get to that point, last year we had Bruna (Deichmann), Katrina (Selsor), Kelsey (Sigl) and Sharaya and it was somebody different every night and it was hard to guard.
“That’s one thing I hope we can develop more this year, making sure we have three or four scorers each game.”
Rock’s do-it-all style really showed in the second half, when she hit two of Mesa’s three successive 3-pointers (Selsor had the other), then came up with a steal and got the ball to Lopez for a layup and a 30-point lead, 74-44, with 6:11 to play. She hit one more 3 from the top of the key with just less than four minutes to play for a 79-44 lead and Wagner cleared the bench.
“Coming into last year we had Kelsey and Katrina, I didn’t have to shoot as much or look for my shot as much, it was just finding my role with the little things,” Rock said. “This year I needed to be more of a threat to help our team out and that’s what I’m trying to do.”