Vermeer’s late layup lifts Mesa men

Landon Vermeer hit five 3-pointers, but it was a driving layup that made the difference.

The shooting guard for the Colorado Mesa men’s basketball team made a layup in the paint with three seconds left Saturday night to lift the Mavericks to a 75-73 victory over Adams State in a heated game that had the coaches on edge at Brownson Arena.

“We set up a play the first timeout and that didn’t work,” CMU coach Andy Shantz said. “We were lucky Landon got the ball. We hoped he’d open up for a jump shot and didn’t, but he did a great job reacting. He put the ball on the floor. That’s something Landon doesn’t do a lot. The ball fell in. It was a great finish by Landon.

“He’s getting more well-rounded and turning into a very good player for us.”

The Mavericks (7-3, 5-1 RMAC) had the ball with 21 seconds left after Adams State hit a 3-pointer to tie the game.

Point guard Joe Kiely drove to the basket, his shot was blocked and he crashed to the floor. No foul was called, but the Mavs got the ball back with four seconds left.

“I’m not mad, I understand the ref’s call,” Kiely said. “They don’t want to call a foul and put the game on the free-throw line, but at the end of the day, we have this kid named Landon Vermeer. He kind of looks like Captain America. He made a really tough layup. That was pretty much the plan and it worked — clearly.”

Vermeer gave credit to center Ryan Stephan for creating space for him and forward Jon Orr on his inbound pass.

“Coach drew up a good play,” Vermeer said. “I was initially supposed to come to the 3-point line and knock it down, but (the defender) ended up trailing me, Jon found me and Steph sealed it. I can’t take credit for a tough layup if he didn’t seal the guy out.”

Stephan led the Mavericks with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Vermeer scored 20 and Kiely added 16.

Vermeer scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half to spark the Mavericks’ second-half rally — their fourth victory of the season when trailing at halftime.

Adams State (4-4, 1-4 RMAC) was led by an unexpected player.

Junior forward Juwann Buchanan scored a season-high 22 points for the Grizzlies, including the 3-pointer to tie the game at 73-73. He had all of three points in two games this season entering the game.

“I think on the year, he was 1 for 6 from the field,” Shantz said. “In my infinite wisdom, I thought we could make him beat us, which he about did. That kid played great. Maybe he was injured. They’re so talented, maybe it took him a while to get into the rotation. He just kept answering and answering.”

The 6-foot-6 small forward sparked a 19-5 run by the Grizzlies in the first half, scoring 12 of his 15 points during the run, giving Adams State its biggest lead of the game, 36-20, with 4:29 left in the first half.

The Mavericks closed the first half with a 10-5 run, including 3-pointers from Clay Kame and Vermeer, but trailed 41-32.

“I thought our guys did a great job sticking with the game plan,” Shantz said. “(The Grizzlies) started hitting some perimeter shots and the tendency is to go away from the game plan. We wanted them to try to beat us from the perimeter and they about did.”

Colorado Mesa scored on its first 11 possessions of the second half, including a 10-0 run. Vermeer hit back-to-back 3-pointers during the run as Mesa tied the game 49-49. Vermeer hit another 3-pointer a couple of possessions later for a 55-53 lead.

Mesa pushed its lead to 71-65 for its largest lead, but the Grizzlies fought back and tied the game on a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left.


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