|Posted February 28, 2009|
ThunderWolves claim 5-seed with upset over Mesa
CSU-Pueblo remained hot at a time they needed to, undoing Mesa State's bid for an RMAC West Division championship with a rousing 65-60 win over the Mavericks Saturday.
CSU-Pueblo's win gives them the 5-seed in the RMAC, which sets up a rematch with Mesa State, this time in Grand Junction, in the first round of the RMAC Tournament on Tuesday, Mar. 4 at 7 p.m.
The Pack's win came in front of one of the largest crowds in school history, the ThunderWolves played their "A"-game, neutralizing a double-double effort by Mesa State's Jase Herl and a 10-board showing from Jake Swartzendruber to outlast the Mavs.
The ThunderWolves relied on a 12-5 run midway through the second half to exact a 50-42 advantage on the Mavericks with 7:09 remaining, which held a one-point lead over the Pack at halftime. Thanks to an all-around strong performance in the second frame, sinking 43 percent of their shots and out-boarding the Mavericks by two in the second half, the ThunderWolves never saw a credible threat from Mesa State in the closing minutes.
After the Pack's run, Mesa State could not get any closer than three. A big reason for that was the Pack's success at the line, going 13-for-19 and going 5-for-6 from the line inside of the final 30 seconds.
The Pack was led by Rome Smith (Sr., Denver, Colo.), who turned in a double-double with an 18-point, 12-rebound effort.
The Saturday crowd of 3,351, the largest to watch a CSU-Pueblo basketball game in since 1996, came on the team's senior night, in which Smith, Jake Trahern (Sr., Kit Carson, Colo.), Jordan Surratt (Sr., Morgantown, W.V.), Mario Balinton (Sr., San Francisco, Calif.) and Justin Everett (Sr., Las Vegas, Nev.) were honored. Earlier in the night, the Pack women broke an all-time attendance record for a women's game with another 3,000-plus crowd.