|Posted January 6, 2012|
Pack defense again delivers win
ThunderWolves out-board Mavs, use nine steals to claim victory.
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (GoThunderWolves.com - Jan. 6, 2012) - CSU-Pueblo relied on its tenacious defense to hold a strong Colorado Mesa offense in check Friday, holding the Mavericks to 51 points in claiming a 55-51 victory.
Colorado Mesa only led for 45 seconds as CSU-Pueblo jumped out fast and consistently stayed two to three buckets ahead of the Mavericks. Using a three by Erica Hicks (Jr., Lakewood, Colo.) and four points by Laurel Kearsley (Jr., Victor, Idaho), CSU-Pueblo jumped out to a 9-2 lead to open the game. Mesa would get close - ending the first half trailing 31-29 and tying it with the first bucket of the second half - but CSU-Pueblo always played its best at big moments.
As Mesa took its first - and only - lead of the night, a 39-38 advantage midway through the second half after Mesa's Effo Baker sunk a three-pointer, the Pack responded with one of its best runs of the night, scoring 11 of the next 13 points, which included a pair of threes by Jennelle Branting (Sr., Littleton, Colo.), to jump up 49-41 with four minutes remaining to put the game largely out of reach.
Though the final bucket of that run, a long-range jump shot by Katie Nehf (Fr., Broomfield, Colo.), ended up being the final field goal the Pack would hit, late free throws saved the Pack.
After going a subpar 3-for-6 from the line down the stretch as Mesa tried to foul its way back into the game, the Mavericks scored on a three-point play from former ThunderWolf Katrina Selsor as the game was cut to 53-51 with 10 seconds left.
Again forced to foul, Hicks was sent to line, and she delivered in a big way, sinking two ice cold free throws to clinch the win.
Branting finished with 22 points, three off the game-high turned in by Mesa's Kelsey Sigl, who had 25. Kearsley also was just shy of a double-double, finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Pack point guard Kendall Babler (Sr., Rifle, Colo.), despite being held scoreless in the game, saw her streak of 15 straight games with 10 points or more half Friday. It was the longest such streak during head coach Kip Drown's tenure at CSU-Pueblo (since 2005-06).
With the victory, CSU-Pueblo improves to 10-2, its second best start in school history, and a nearly flawless 7-1 conference record, as it continues its Western Slope road trip Saturday when it faces a Western State team that is 6-3 in conference play.