Well, that three-game winning streak was nice while it lasted.
The refreshing and rather impressive three-game win streak by the Colorado Mesa University (CMU) Men’s Basketball team was looking even better going into halftime against Westminster College (WC) on Saturday night; however, the Mavericks would allow the Griffins to go on a 51 point onslaught in the second half to seal the 83-70 victory.
So what happened? CMU was in control of the game in the first half. Three Mavericks were already scoring in double digits and shooting 57 percent from the field. The defense was holding WC to 40 percent from the field and allowed them to make only two three-pointers out of eight attempts.
The first half performance was reflective of how the defense had played within the last three games except better. Each of the three wins were by less than six points, but the defense always held the opposing offense to at most 40 percent of shots made from the field.
But then it all fell apart in the second half. Westminster College, who had only lost three games prior to Saturday, went off on an offensive onslaught against the Mavericks.
Daynon Goodman, for the Griffins, put up 24 points in the second half alone to give him 37 total for the entire game. Westminster shot 53 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc in the second half in which was a complete 180-degree turn from how the first half story was portrayed.
Where was the consistency that the Mavericks showed over the last week and a half? It went away as fast as their shot consistency went down in the second half against the Griffins. CMU shot only 37 percent on the court and grabbed only nine rebounds compared to the Griffins’ 25.
The problem still lies within. The Mavericks, who faced the problem of only possessing one senior at the beginning of the season, are now reaping the consequences for said problem.
Only four Mavericks are averaging over ten points per game (ppg). Connor Nichols continues to be on of the only positives for the Mavericks offense as the junior leads the team with 18.9 ppg. Emilio Acedo, who is a junior college transfer, follows Nichols with 17.3 ppg, but has been lacking in outgoing performance in the Mavericks’ last four games.
One of the bigger disappointments has been CJ Davis. The lone senior is averaging only 11.2 ppg. this season, in which is the lowest Davis has carried in his career at CMU.
Davis made only two field goals on Saturday for nine points and one assist. Acedo managed to dish out 13 points along with going perfect behind the arc in his three attempts.
Westminster possesses the best defense in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) allowing only 65.8 points per game on defense while also possessing the second best point margin in 10.4. CMU’s point margin is on the other side of the spectrum with -2.4.
It is questionable if even the performance from earlier in the week was a fluke in the 78-76 victory against Western State as Western did have the second-best scoring in the RMAC. Many fans were questioning where was the team who won three games in a row earlier on in the season? The same fans were asking the same questions in the second half on Saturday.
Yes, the Griffins are a solid team who definitely have the right to possess 18 wins on the season, but the Mavericks had more than enough capacity to carry over the amazing first half performance to the second and seal a fourth consistent victory.
The three-game win streak was a little glimpse of hope for the Mavericks to making a late-season push towards the RMAC tournament, yet now the window seems slim as they slipped down to tenth in the RMAC standings and UCCS took over the ninth seed.
The RMAC tournament takes only the top eight teams and with only four games left in the regular season, the window is closing fast on CMU as they face missing out on the RMAC playoffs for another consecutive year.
The next five games for the Mavericks will not be easy either. Four out of the five teams are in the top eight in RMAC. Fort Lewis College, who sits a top alone in the RMAC standings, are currently riding a six game win streak and have not lost consecutive games all season.
Three of the last games will also take place on the road. CMU is in possession 3-5 road record and four of those losses came against RMAC teams.
Other notable games to finish out the season consist of CSU-Pueblo and New Mexico Highlands. Both teams are similar to the Mavericks in standings and stats; however, CMU has lost games against both teams earlier in the year when CMU played them back-to-back on Dec. 15-16.
CMU will attempt to save their season as they return Brownson arena for the final home game set of the season starting with an RMAC matchup against Adams State on Feb. 9. Adams State is riding a three-game win streak of their own, but in the last head-to-head matchup, the Mavericks came away with a thrilling 90-87 victory.