Western hits half-court shot at buzzer to beat Mavs
It’s a shot just about every player takes, usually at the end of practice, the half-court shot to win the game.
Will Duggan not only took the half-court heave at the buzzer Tuesday night in the RMAC opener at Paul Wright Gym in Gunnison — he made it.
Duggan’s game-winner rattled the rim before falling in, lifting Western State to an improbable 76-75 victory over Colorado Mesa, capping a 15-point comeback in the final 13 minutes.
The officials went to the replay monitor as students rushed the court, finally confirming that Duggan got the shot off before the horn sounded.
Connor Nichols had given the Mavericks a 75-73 lead with only 4.4 seconds to play on a short jumper in the lane. After a timeout, Western inbounded the ball and Duggan, only one step over the half-court stripe, put up the runner.
It was the final big shot in a series of big shots in the final minutes.
The Mavericks (1-6, 0-1 RMAC) were seemingly in control after Nichols hit a 3-pointer with 13:10 to play to put CMU up 53-38, but the Mountaineers wouldn’t go away.
After Nichols, who finished with 20 points, hit a 3 and a layup for a 64-51 lead with 6:35 remaining, the Mavericks went cold for 2½ minutes.
That allowed Western to creep closer, getting within seven, 64-57, on a layup with just less than five minutes to go.
Ben Beauchamp was fouled and hit two free throws with 3:14 to play, cutting CMU’s lead to 65-62, but Brandon Hoffer answered with two free throws three seconds later.
With 2:20 remaining, Beauchamp’s 3-pointer made it a two-point game, 69-67, but Patrick Sniff was called for a foul after the shot, and CMU’s Ludvig Saldh made two free throws.
A layup by Nichols with 44 seconds left gave CMU a three-point cushion, but Brady Subart ended up with the ball after a scramble on the floor and buried a 3 to tie the game with 21 seconds to go.
The Mavericks ran the clock down to five seconds, with Saldh finding Nichols for a runner in the lane, giving CMU a 75-73 lead. Western called time and Duggan, who finished with 17 points, hit the winner.
CJ Davis hit five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points and Saldh, a freshman from Sweden, had a career-high 13 points. Beauchamp had 22 for Western State (2-3, 1-0) and Duggan 17.
Taylor Wagner wanted to see a few things in the RMAC opener, and for the most part, he got just what he wanted in the Mavericks’ 71-42 victory over Western State.
“We’ve got to be really disciplined, and that was one of the goals,” Wagner said. “We wanted to be disciplined defensively and cut our turnovers down. Those are two things I’m a little disappointed in, but everything else we did good. They competed, and that was good to see, they competed really hard.”
After the first quarter, with Mesa leading only 16-13, the Mavericks kicked the defense in high gear and didn’t give up more than 10 points in any quarter after that.
“We let them back in it, but the other three quarters, defensively we did a good job,” Wagner said. “We rebounded a lot better in the second half. I just felt like we played almost a complete game. We’re making strides.”
Nicole Archambeau hit her first five shots and finished with 13 points, and Sydney Small, after banging her right knee against another player’s knee and limping off in the first quarter, came back to lead the Mavericks (4-1, 1-0 RMAC) with 14 points. Bryanna Adams added 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Up 37-23 at halftime, the Mavericks shut out the Mountaineers (1-4, 0-1) for nearly the first four minutes of the third quarter and led 46-25 with 6:27 to play in the third when Archambeau went inside for a layup, and when Erin Reichle hit a 3 with five seconds left, it was 57-32.
Reichle had nine points and four assists, and Khadijah Vigil had eight points and six rebounds off the bench. Mesa, which shot 52.8 percent from the field, doubled up Western on points in the paint, 32-16, and out-rebounded the Mountaineers 38-24.
“Khadijah really played well, was really composed in there,” Wagner said. “It was good to see her do that; she needed to have that kind of game.
“For the most part everybody played well and competed, and that’s what I wanted to get out of this game, first conference game on the road. Maybe we grew up a little bit tonight.”