The one thing you don't prepare for...
"They went to that soft pressure into that zone and they hadn't run a possession of that the whole year," Colorado Mesa men's basketball coach Mike DeGeorge said Friday night after the Mavs' 94-92 overtime victory against Missouri Western University.
"We made a decision this week to focus on what we thought we were going to see from both teams and not work outside of that. We didn't work on any of that stuff this week and obviously in retrospect that would have been something to touch on. But you can't touch on everything when you've got a new group; there's only so many things you can be prepared for."
The Mavericks (3-2), behind a career-high scoring night from Michael Skinner, opened the second half on a 26-11 run to build a five-point lead to 20 when Skinner followed a miss with a dunk with 11:30 to play.
After that, the Griffons went to a three-quarter court press, and their 3-point shooters got them back in the game.
"It's always an adjustment," point guard Georgie Dancer said of handling the press. "You have to make game-time adjustments. We weren't expecting them to pressure us and they did, so we had to handle it."
The Mavericks didn't turn it over at the top of the press, but had some trouble in the half-court offense. What affected them more was the time that ran off the clock before they got into their offense.
"We were so slow against it in the fullcourt, we were tentative against it when we advanced it," DeGeorge said. "We were always playing the last 10 seconds of the shot clock and getting one shot and honestly, that was our problem in the first half. We weren't really playing within the flow of our offense. We were kind of a one-action team. We're best when we get the thing going side to side and getting multiple actions.
"We have a long way to go, but I like the group and I love how they kept fighting. It was great to get out of here with a win."
Skinner finished with a career-high 27 points, and just about everything was falling for him. Case in point: With 3:39 to play, he drove the baseline and tried to dunk the ball, but because of the contact he drew, the ball hit the glass and rolled along the back end of the rim before falling through the net. He made the free throw for an 83-70 lead.
"Having the guys I have around me is good because the floor gets spaced," Skinner said. "We have shooters and we've got slashers. We've got a lot of people who can attack the defense in a lot of ways. Tonight was just my night. They gave me opportunities and I took them."
Skinner wasn't just an offensive threat, though — he led CMU with 11 rebounds, had four assists and a pair of steals, playing more than 40 minutes, as did Dancer.
Tommy Nuno scored 15 points before fouling out with 1:21 to play, and Dancer and Jared Small had 14 each.
"The way they were playing defense, if we moved the ball and shared the ball we got a lot of open driving lanes," Dancer said. "That's what really helped us out. We're not a selfish team at all. We move it around really well."
The Griffons (3-4) also moved the ball on offense to get looks from the 3-point line. They hit 14, but took 42 (33.3%), and went on a 12-0 run over a span of 2 minutes, 17 seconds to pull within one, 83-82, on two free throws after Nuno's fifth foul.
It was 84-84 with 30 seconds to go, and the Mavericks called time with 20.3 left. Jess Spivey's 3-pointer to win it rimmed out, and the Griffons' desperation heave was late.
Tyus Millhollin had 23 points for Missouri Western, hitting five 3-pointers, and Reese Glover hit a half-dozen 3s and finished with 22.
In overtime, the Mavericks scored all but two of their points at the free-throw line, ironic since they went only 26 of 42 for the game — and 8 of 14 in overtime.
A pair of free throws by Sam Siganos in the first 20 seconds of overtime gave Missouri Western its first lead since midway through the first half, but Clay Verk made three of four after CMU went back to its bigger lineup, and Mesa didn't trail again.
After Millhollin buried a 3 with 2.4 seconds left to cut the lead to 93-92, Skinner got the ball inbounds and was fouled.
He made the first free throw with 1.7 seconds to play, and after a timeout to set up the strategy, he missed the second on purpose. Siganos got the rebound but again, Missouri Western couldn't get a shot off before the horn.
"I think we saw where we are as a team," DeGeorge said. "We have great potential and some things we have to work on obviously. Tonight was a great example of what the season's been, because we didn't give up. We kept fighting and even though we blew that lead, we still found a way to win the game."
Montana Western 73, Western Colorado 71: The Bulldogs rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final 11 minutes of the second half.
An 18-8 run over a five-minute span gave Montana Western (5-3) a 64-63 lead and the 'Dogs held on from there. They built the lead to five, but the Mountaineers (2-3) cut it to one when Jackson Ehrlin hit one free throw with 40 seconds left, but he missed the shot that would have tied the game.
Ehrlin was one of four Mountaineers in double figures, finishing with 11. Josh Tomasi had 15 points and 10 rebounds, James Willis scored 12 and Cole Sienknecht 10. Max Clark, who hit two free throws to give Montana Western the lead for good, had 18 to lead the Bulldogs, with James Jones adding 17, Brian Howell 13 and Davonte Eason 12.