The No. 11 School of Mines men’s basketball team (21-3, 17-3 in the RMAC) took their show on the road Friday to Las Vegas, New Mexico and walked away with a 77-69 victory. With five players in double figures on the night, Mines grinded out the eight point victory.
Mines never quite could pull away from the Cowboys in the beginning of the first half. With the game tied 8-8, Mines scored seven straight to lead 15-8, but the Cowboys came back and tied the game at 15. Once again, Mines jumped out a lead, 23-15, but the Cowboys refused to just lay down and quit, scoring six straight to cut the lead to two. Finally in the final five minutes of the game, Mines managed to increase their lead to double digits, and at halftime the Orediggers led 44-34.
The Cowboys would cut that lead to six with 15:41 remaining, but a Brian Muller triple increased the lead back to nine. Never able to completely pull away, Mines led by at least eight for much of the second half, but with just 2:11 remaining, that lead was once again cut into, this time to a four point margin. Both teams traded points in the next minute and with 47 second left Mines held a four point advantage, but the Cowboys had possession. NMHU would miss two layups and be forced to foul twice in the final seconds and senior Luke Meisch sunk four straight free throws to seal the game.
Off the bench with 16 points to lead the team, Gokul Natesan also added two assists, two steals, and two rebounds in 24 minutes. Brian Muller scored 14, dished out three assists, and grabbed six rebounds; while Trevor Wages scored 13 and had seven rebounds. Meisch led the team with nine rebounds and added 10 points, including the crucial free throws, three assists, and two steals. Trevor Ritchie also recorded three dimes and two steals in addition to his 11 points. Caleb Waitsman had eight rebounds and Brett Green recorded seven points as well as two each of the following: rebounds, assists, and steals.
The Orediggers shot 47.2% from the field compared to 43.1 for the Cowboys, but were outshot 11-6 (44% to 33.3%) from behind the arch. Mines shot 21-of-25 from the charity stripe for 84%, and dominated the painted area 30-18 while out-rebounding the Cowboys 39-22.