PUEBLO, Colo. (February 23, 2018) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team needed a win Friday at Massari Arena to stay in the hunt for a spot in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Shootout. Guided by the play of senior Will Newman (G, Hawthorne, Calif.), the ThunderWolves recorded an 82-69 victory against Colorado Mesa University.
The Pack (12-15, 9-12 RMAC) have one game to play, which is a home contest Saturday against Western State Colorado University (12-15, 10-11 RMAC) at 7:30 p.m. If the ThunderWolves were to win, they would secure at least a tie with Western for the eighth and final spot in the postseason conference tournament. A win would clinch a 2-0 sweep of the Mountaineers this season and give the Pack the edge in the head-to-head tiebreaker. If New Mexico Highlands University (14-13, 9-12 RMAC) were to also win against CMU, there would be a three-way tie at 10-12 and the tiebreaker would be broken by a point system created by the RMAC. The bracket for the RMAC tournament will be announced Saturday evening.
First, CSU-Pueblo needed to get the victory against the Mavericks. Newman finished with 22 points, a career-high 12 assists and nine rebounds. The double-double was his fifth of the season, while it marked the second time in 2017-18 he totaled 10 or more helpers. The senior moved into eighth all-time in scoring (1,269 points) and now sits second all-time in assists (419 assists).
Sophomore Jason Anderson (C, Colorado Springs, Colo.) added 16 points and seven rebounds with three buckets from beyond the arc. Sophomore Donovan Oldham (Colorado Springs, Colo.) chipped in 14 points and BJ Hardy (R-Fr., Colorado Springs, Colo.) posted an important 10 points in 16 minutes off the bench. He was 4-of-6 (66.7%) from the field and 2-for-4 (50%) from long range with four rebounds.
The ThunderWolves finished the game shooting 44.9 percent after an extremely slow start. CSU-Pueblo shot 38 3-pointers and hit 13 of them. The Pack held CMU to 36.4 percent from the field and only five 3-pointers. The home team was strong on the boards and finished with a 44-37 rebounding advantage, which was the largest positive rebounding margin (+7) this season. Newman helped the team dish out a season-high 20 dimes in the victory.
Both teams started cold, as the score sat at 5-4 in favor of the Pack five minutes into the contest. At the midway point of the first half, CMU led 13-10. The ThunderWolves finally started to find a rhythm and recorded a 9-2 run to lead 19-15 with 8:03 showing on the first half clock. The Mavericks would get within one at 21-20 with 6:46 left in the half, but the home team closed the half on an 16-8 run to lead 37-28 at the break. Five different players scored during the final run, led by five points from Hardy.
The ThunerWolves built their lead to a game-high 18 during the first 10 minutes of the second half, as they led 64-46. The Mavericks didn't go away, as a 15-4 run during the next four minutes of play put the road team back in it at 68-61. CSU-Pueblo snapped out the funk and put the game away with a 10-2 run that had the lead at 78-63 with 2:26 remaining before settling on the 13-point win.
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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.