Walters has Mavs focused on keeping possession

Colorado Mesa University’s Kelsey Sigl pushes toward the basket during practice Wednesday for this weekend’s Clarion Inn Thanksgiving Tip-Off Classic at Brownson Arena. The Mavericks open the holiday tournament against Tarleton State (Texas) University at 5 p.m. Friday at Brownson Arena.


Clarion Inn Thanksgiving TIp-off

Colorado Mesa Mavericks (0-2)

Last season: 17-10 (14-8 RMAC)

Coach: Roger Walters, 3rd season

Probable Starters

PG: Effo Baker, Jr., 5-5 (0 ppg, .5 apg)

G: Tara Gehring, Sr., 5-9 (10 ppg, 5 rpg)

G: Katrina Selsor, Jr., 6-1 (4 ppg, 6 rpg)

F: Kelsey Sigl, Jr., 6-0 (23.5 ppg, 6 rpg)

C: Amy Weitzeil, Sr., 6-1 (2 ppg, 3 rpg)

Notes: Keep an eye on Hillary Duncan, a senior transfer Oklahoma Christian, who didn’t play basketball last season. She can provide instant offense off the bench, rotating with Gehring on the wing. Redshirt freshman forward Leanndra Gilbert had solid minutes last week, as did freshman backup point guard Dallas Rohrbaugh.

Tarleton State TexAnns (2-3)

Last season: 25-5 (13-1 Lone Star)

Coach: Ronnie Hearne, 9th season

Probable Starters

G: Peyton Adamson, Soph., 5-7 (13 ppg, 1.5 rpg)

G: Lisa Parker, Sr., 5-7 (5.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg)

G: Shelby Adamson, Sr., 5-7 (13.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg)

F: Shanae Lowrance, Soph., 5-10 (6.3 ppg, 9.8 rpg)

F: Morgan Stehling, Sr., 5-9 (6.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg) or Cheyenne Berry, Soph., 5-9 (7.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg)

Notes: Tarleton hasn’t started the season below .500 since 2008 and won 25 games last season, one year after making the regional playoffs. Peyton Adamson transferred from the University of Missouri-Kansas City to rejoin her sister, Shelby, and is a 3-point threat. As a high school senior, Peyton Adamson led the nation in 3-pointers.

CU-Colorado Springs Mountain Lions (2-1)

Last season: 10-16 (9-13 RMAC)

Coach: Corey Laster, 2nd season

Probable Starters

G: Danielle Brown, Sr., 5-6 (12.7 ppg, 4 rpg, 1 apg)

G: Jessica Brown, Sr., 5-6 (9.3 ppg 2.3 rpg, 3.6 apg)

G: Abby Kirchoff, Fr., 5-11 (14 ppg, 5 rpg); Lauren Wolfinger, Jr., 5-6 (2 ppg, 1.7 rpg) or Jeri Pikul, Soph., 5-9 (.7 ppg, 1 rpg)

F: Ashley Miller, Sr., 5-11 (8.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg)

C: Hannah Knight, Fr., 6-2, (2.7 ppg 3 rpg)

Notes: Solid wins over Winona State (Minn.) on the road and West Texas A&M at home have the Mountain Lions playing with confidence. The Brown sisters run the show for UCCS, which is on the same rebuilding track as the Mavericks after a coaching change a couple of years ago. The Mountain Lions allow teams to shoot only 39 percent and are winning close games — they average 57.3 points per game and give up 57.3 points a game.

Oklahoma Panhandle State Aggies (0-4)

Last season: 3-23 (0-10 Heartland Conference)

Coach: Brad Vanden Boogaard, 5th season

Probable Starters

G: Quinae Thomas, Sr., 5-6 (8.0 ppg, 3 rpg)

G: Carmela Garcia, Sr., 5-3 (11 ppg, 4.7 rpg)

F: Nicole Buhl Sr., 5-11 (7.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg)

F: Tomi McDonald, Sr., 6-0 (5.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg)

G/F: Kaylee Marion Fr., 5-6 (1.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg) or Megan Taylor, Jr., 5-10 (2.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg)

Notes: The Aggies have allowed more than 100 points in three of their first four games, including a 104-79 loss to the RMAC’s Adams State, then allowed 97 in a loss Tuesday to New Mexico Highlands. Teenie Kent, a 5-4 sophomore guard, leads OPSU in scoring, averaging 14.3 points off the bench.

A coach is never quite sure how a team will handle close losses on back-to-back days.

Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball coach Roger Walters found out Monday morning.

Only about 12 hours after arriving in Grand Junction from a 16-hour bus trip to northern California, the Mavericks showed up at practice at 8 a.m. Monday, ready to go.

“Coach was saying we can either just drop down and pout and cry about it or we can pick ourselves up and come back,” senior center Amy Weitzeil said. “We might as well learn from this and get stronger. You can always get better.”

A film session showed the Mavericks (0-2) what they already knew.

“No more turnovers,” Weitzeil said.

Mesa turned the ball over 29 times in the season opener against Cal State-Chico, a 62-59 loss.

“People called it a fluke, but we proved it on the second night,” Walters deadpanned Tuesday, referring to the Mavs’ 29 turnovers against Sonoma State on Saturday afternoon, a 55-54 overtime loss.

Walters preaches valuing the basketball. And in those two losses, the Mavericks saw firsthand what he means when he tells them that every possession counts. In both losses, Mesa had the ball with a chance to put the game away but in both cases, lost control of the ball.

“We’re 18 seconds away from being 2-0; we have to do a better job finishing,” Walters said. “Watching film, the thing of it is, it wasn’t the last 18 seconds of the games. You’ve got to respect every possession. When you turn it over 29 times, that’s not what I’m referring to about respecting possessions.”

He knows the Mavs will have to respect possessions this weekend in the Clarion Inn Thanksgiving Tip-Off Classic at Brownson Arena.

Colorado Mesa faces Tarleton State (Texas) University at 5 p.m. Friday at Brownson Arena. The TexAnns (2-3) opened the season No. 20 in the USA Today/ESPN Division II coaches’ preseason poll, but after dropping their first two games, fell out of the rankings this week.

Walters knows the TexAnns, who won 25 games last season, will present plenty of challenges. He hadn’t watched film of Tarleton as of Tuesday morning, but it was on his to-do list.

“I’m still concerned with us, but I know they’re going to be extremely athletic and well-coached,” he said. “We’ve got to do what we do and improve with every day.”

In the 1 p.m. game Friday, CU-Colorado Springs plays Oklahoma Panhandle State. Saturday, UCCS faces Tarleton at 1 p.m. and the Mavs play Panhandle at 5.

Turnovers and missed free throws aside, Walters is encouraged by the improvement the Mavericks have shown from last season.

Kelsey Sigl is averaging 23.5 points a game and Tara Gehring 10, with Hillary Duncan adding 8.5 off the bench. Walters likes the rotation of Gehring, a good outside shooter, and Duncan, who can go inside and outside, on the wing, and redshirt freshman forward Leanndra Gilbert gave the Mavs some good minutes, averaging 5.5 points a game.

Katrina Selsor and Sigl are leading the rebounding effort with 6 per game.

“I thought we played pretty well Friday, don’t you, Mary?” Walters asked assistant coach Mary Doane.

“Yeah, if we make a few free throws and hold onto the ball a couple more times, we’ve got a win against a pretty good team,” she said.

The Mavericks, who shot 75 percent from the free-throw line last season, made only 56 percent last week. The glaring statistic is that they got to the line 41 times on the road — their opponents shot only 25 free throws combined, but made 22. Mesa made 23.

Walters scheduled the trip to California and got Tarleton on the schedule for one reason — to challenge his club, which returns the majority of the lineup from last season.

“I knew when we made the schedule it was going to be tough, but we wanted to challenge ourselves early and that’s what we’ve done,” he said. “With those challenges come setbacks here and there, but that’s OK, as long as we learn from it.”


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