|Posted February 3, 2009|
Highlands takes down Pack men
By JEFF LETOFSKY
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
LAS VEGAS, N.M. - The new kids on the block
gave the Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team an
Upstart New Mexico Highlands University continued its run through Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opponents Tuesday night at the John A. Wilson Complex with a 90-67 pasting of the Pack.
Highlands is the best turnaround story of the season in the RMAC. The Cowboys were just 1-26 overall a year ago and have done a 180 this season behind first-year coach Joe Harge, the son of former American Basketball Association and National Basketball Association player Ira Harge.
The Cowboys, who took over the lead in the West Division of the RMAC at 9-3, a half game ahead of Fort Lewis, rode roughshod over the ThunderWolves, exploding to a 53-33 halftime lead and never looking back. Highlands, now 15-5 overall, featured a good mix of inside-outside on offense and used the entire court to exploit opponents with pressure defense. It also has depth off the bench that contributes.
In the first half, the Cowboys were firing on all cylinders,
shooting 60 percent from the field and winning the rebound battle
21-13. They also forced eight turnovers. It didn't help that
CSU-Pueblo point guard Jordan Surratt (Sr.,
Morgantown, W.V.), the team leader on offense, was saddled
with foul trouble most of the half and played just eight
CSU-Pueblo, battling for a spot in the eight-team RMAC tournament, fell to 9-11 overall and 6-6 in the RMAC.
Pack coach Pat Eberhart said Tuesday was all about competing.
"We didn't compete at the intensity level that they competed at," Eberhart said. "I don't think they are 20 points better than us, but tonight they were because they competed harder than us. We made them take contested shots. We didn't rebound and finish each possession. The second shots is what hurt us."
Eberhart was impressed with Highlands and was disappointed with his team's effort.
"I think they are a good team, athletic," he said. "But I believe in my heart if we would have competed in the first half it would have been a better game."
Highlands had six players finish in double figures, including all five starters. Chris Dunn finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and six blocked shots. In fact, the Cowboys blocked nine total shots. Ryan Gonzales came off the bench to throw in 14 points, Rashad Peterson and Roman Andrade contributed 13, Mindaugas Markevicus 12 and Ledreece Smith 10.
Marc Williams (Jr., Seattle, Wash.) led the Pack with 21 and Jake Trahern (Sr., Kit Carson, Colo.) 16. Leading scorer Rome Smith (Sr., Denver, Colo.) managed just five points, 13 points off his average, and took only six shots. And Roman Van Allen (Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.), averaging in double figures, connected on only six points, playing a season-low 19 minutes.
The T-Wolves turned the ball over 15 times and shot 42.3 percent from the field (22-52) but was outrebounded 39-31.
"That's not us to play soft," Surratt said. "I don't think it's what they did, it's what we didn't do. We didn't get on the boards. It's a tough loss knowing that it's a winnable game." "We have to go back to the basics, locking down, back to the fundamentals. We have to box out and do the little things."
PACK POINTERS: CSU-Pueblo still leads the all-time series with the Cowboys 52-14, including a 22-12 mark in Las Vegas. . . . Jazz Williams hit his first bucket of the season in the late going.