Through 21 games, the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team is 15-4 and have won five out of the last six matchups. They are averaging 64.7 points per game and giving up only 53.7 for a scoring margin of 11.0 points per game. They hold their opponents to 34 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from the three-point line. But when you look at the standings, these Mavericks are sitting in fourth place in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC). Despite all of this, are the Mavericks still underperforming?

How is a team that is forcing 15 turnovers a game and turning that into 16 points not at least in the top two in their conference? How is a team that makes seven more field goals on average than their opponent not sitting near the number one spot? How is a team that has outscored their opponents by 110 POINTS in the third quarter sitting in fourth place in their conference?

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The answer is quite simply this: the RMAC is a way tougher conference than it is given credit for. Looking at the standings; you will see this clear as day. There are seven teams that have double-digit wins this season and eight teams have at least eight conference wins through 13 conference games.

But that doesn’t fully answer the question as to why the Mavericks are sitting in fourth place. They still have 16 wins to only five losses this season. Last season CSU-Pueblo, who finished at the top of the RMAC with a 28-4 overall record, were the only team to finish with four losses that year. Right now, there are three.

Plain and simple, the Mavericks are good. But if they want to finish inside the top two teams in the RMAC and be able to host some RMAC playoff games, they are going to need to be great down the stretch. Here is their competition for that top seed over the final nine games.

CSU-Pueblo is currently sitting with the top seed with an 13-2 conference record and a 15-6 overall record. They have climbed into that number one seed thanks in large part to consistency. Since conference games began back on Dec. 1, the Thunderwolves have only had one off the weekend. That weekend they went 0-2 against MSU Denver and UCCS. However, the other six weekends they played their game and went 11-0. CMU lost their first matchup to the Thunderwolves at home back on Dec. 15 (67-60). They play each other one more time during the regular season on Feb. 23, and that will be a huge game down the stretch for both teams.

Quite possibly the most dangerous team sits in third place: The Fort Lewis Skyhawks. They have a 11-4 conference record and a 17-4 overall record. The reason they are the scariest team in the RMAC right now is because of one person: Vivian Gray. The once five-star ESPN recruit is the most dangerous player in the RMAC. Don’t believe me? Gray just swept the RMAC women’s basketball offensive and defensive players of the week last week after averaging 30 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and a block in the two games. She has five awards so far this season and don’t be surprised if she wins more over the next few weeks. In her last game, she tallied career highs in points (33) and rebounds (15). She is just getting started.

The only other teams currently ahead of the Mavericks in the standings is Black Hills State University (BHSU) and Colorado School of Mines (CSM) . Colorado Mines are in a deadlock with the Mavericks. CSM is sitting at 10-4 in the conference and 13-7 overall. Black Hills State, on the other hand is at the top thanks to a very friendly schedule this season. They have only played five of their 19 games on the road (where they are 4-3) so far this season. The other 14 games have been played in Donald E. Young Center where the team is 13-1. However, seven of their final nine games come on the road, including two matchups with the Mavericks, in which they got the upper hand on the Mavericks on Friday in the first matchup. 

The loss against Black Hills State really did set the momentum of the Mavericks off due to the fact the Yellow Jackets have gone on to win six straight games and move into second place in the RMAC ahead of Fort Lewis.  BHSU continues to be making the climb the Mavericks wish they were making; instead, CMU has to play catchup and work twice as hard in order to take over the spot they so are craving so immensely.  

Despite what is on paper, the Mavericks have a lot of work to do over their final nine games to work their way into the top two in the conference. Key games on the road against BHSU and CSU-Pueblo will become crucial for CMU. However, as the stats indicated, this Mavericks team should not be taken lightly and they have just as good a chance as the others to take home the RMAC regular-season title.

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Bryce Reedy
Bryce Reedy is a mass communication major with a minor in sports management. Reedy began his newspaper career with The Criterion back in 2014 as a writer. Reedy worked his way up to sports editor, then managing and finally editor in chief for the 2016-17 year before deciding that he wanted to return to his roots as the sports editor for his senior year.

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