The Colorado Mesa University men’s basketball team hadn’t played since Dec. 19. For much of Saturday night, that rust showed as the Mavericks’ perfect start to the season was in jeopardy.

Thanks to 21 points from Georgie Dancer, the return of a couple of players from injuries and some clutch late baskets, the No. 10 Mavericks maintained their torrid start to an unconventional season.

Reece Johnson hit a 3-pointer in the right corner to give CMU the lead for good with 3 minutes, 6 seconds left in a 60-56 win over CU-Colorado Springs at Brownson Arena. It was the first home game for the Mavs (7-0) in front of a crowd — albeit a small one, announced at 123, because of COVID-19 regulations — this season.

“Staying motivated (was hard) because it can be a bummer when you’re getting ready to play all week and then, the day before your game (against Black Hills State), it gets canceled twice and it dips your energy down, but you have to sustain that energy, so that’s what we were trying to do,” Dancer said.

“I think we had a little bit of trouble doing that in the beginning of the game today, but we picked it up toward the end.”

The Mountain Lions (1-3), who have also had a long break, led their first game since Dec. 12 54-53 after a jumper by Alijah Comithier, who scored 17 points, with 3:35 to go. However, the Mavs ended the game on a 7-2 run to stay perfect.

Both teams looked sluggish at the start, as the game was tied at 10-10 midway through the first half. Dancer’s steal (one of his team-high four) and layup with a foul gave the Mavericks a 13-10 lead, which was followed by freshman Blaise Threatt’s first two career baskets for a 17-10 lead.

Threatt scored nine points in his Maverick debut after missing the first six games with a separated shoulder he suffered in practice the day before the season opener.

“I feel like I did all right,” Threatt said. “I didn’t realize how fast the pace was going to be, but when I finally got in, I felt good.

“My shot still feels a little off because my arm feels heavy because it’s still separated, but I think in the next game, I’ll be good.”

After CMU took a 17-10 lead, the Mountain Lions responded with a 12-3 run to take the lead back. The teams traded baskets to end the half, with Dancer making two of his three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to send the Mavericks to the locker room in a 30-30 tie.

CMU fell behind 35-30 early in the second half, but Dancer’s final 3 with 12:34 left gave the Mavericks a 42-39 lead. That lead grew to 47-41 after Mac Riniker hit back-to-back layups with fouls, but UCCS wouldn’t go away quietly as Comithier continued to hit jump shots.

By the end, it was the defensive prowess and the poise at the free-throw line (8 for 9) for Dancer, one of the team’s three seniors, that saw the Mavericks stay undefeated.

“I was just trying to get my team the win,” Dancer said. “I’m a leader on the team and I was just trying to do whatever I could to get that little bit of separation and not go down late. ... These guys put me in position to do what I need to do.”

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