WSC’s best shooting night leads to upset of Mavs
GUNNISON — Colorado Mesa controlled the boards Saturday night, but it couldn’t stop the worst-shooting team in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference from its best shooting night of the season.
Western State Colorado snapped a 15-game losing streak and won its first game of the season, defeating Colorado Mesa 83-74 at Paul Wright Gym.
“Every night we battle length, size and quickness against most teams,” Western State coach Mike Moskowitz said. “To get our guys to understand that (margin of) difference is pretty small. You’ve got to take care of the ball, shoot the ball well and hit free throws. We miss one of those areas in every game. That’s why we end up losing.
“We have a collective great group. They practiced really hard this week and were ready for a win.”
It was the third consecutive season the Mavericks lost to Western State in Gunnison.
“Andy (Shantz) is probably one of my best buddies in the league,” Moskowitz said. “If I had to beat somebody, it probably wouldn’t be him, but we’ll take it in this case. He’s got his guys competing.”
Shantz wasn’t available for comment after the game.
Colorado Mesa (8-7, 6-5 RMAC) outrebounded Western State 32-25 and had 22 second-chance points, but the Mavericks had only seven assists to eight turnovers and shot 42.9 percent from the floor.
Mesa lost for the fourth time in the past five games, and the Mavericks are 3-7 when opponents score more than 70 points this season.
The Mavs’ Mike Melillo scored a career-high 22 points. He had 17 in the first half.
Ryan Stephan had 22 points and eight rebounds, Jon Orr nearly had a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds for Mesa.
Western State shot 57 percent from the floor. It was the Mountaineers’ best night shooting the ball this season.
Four players scored in double figures for Western State, led by Jordan Adams with 27 points. Mason Biddle scored 15 points and had six assists. Devin Kastrup added 12 points and George Berling had 10 points.
The Mountaineers made nine of 17 3-pointers (52.9 percent). Six different players made at least one 3-pointer.
Mesa took its largest lead of the game early in the second half when Stephan hit a pair of free throws for a 41-35 lead.
Then, the Mountaineers got hot. They scored on six of their next seven possessions, hitting four 3-pointers for a 51-48 lead.
“Our guys can shoot the basketball,” Moskowitz said. “It’s just getting in a rhythm in a game and knocking them down.
“We’re trying to mesh a bunch of pieces together. Hopefully we can put together another one next Friday.”
The Mavericks and Mountaineers went back and forth, exchanging baskets. If Western State didn’t make a field goal, it went to the free-throw line.
The Mountaineers pushed their lead to seven points with 4:38 left, matching their largest lead since early in the first half.
They took a nine-point lead when Berling dunked a lob from Biddle with 1:23 left in regulation.
Berling received a technical foul for hanging on the rim, and Stephan hit both free throws, but it wasn’t enough for the Mavs.
Western State made eight of 10 free throws the rest of the way.