A stifling defense made up for a tough offensive outing as the #2 Orediggers outlasted Colorado Mesa University 63-47 Saturday in the championship game of the RMAC Shootout to earn the school’s first ever RMAC Tournament Championship in program history.
The win capped a three-win week for the Orediggers who ran past Western State University at Lockridge Arena by a score of 90-57 on Tuesday and earned a solid 82-62 win over Nebraska-Kearney, one of only two teams that has beaten Mines this season.
After averaging 86.0 points per game in the first two RMAC Shootout contests, Mines struggled in the championship, finishing 20-52 from the field and only shooting 8-25 in the second half. The Orediggers also had difficulty behind the arc. Over the course of the season they shot an average of 40%, but during the championship the team only converted on four out of their sixteen attempts, and were 2-9 in the second half.
While the normally well-oiled offensive attack struggled, the defense held its ground and kept the Mavericks at bay. Mines held CMU to just 16 points through the first 20 minutes of play and were on pace to break the school record for fewest points allowed in a game (39). As it was, the defense held tight just long enough to get the offense rolling, as the Orediggers surrendered 31 in the second half. The 47 points allowed for the entire game was the lowest point total given up all year.
Redshirt freshman Trevor Ritchie led all scorers with 18 points, just two shy of his career high of 20, which also came against Colorado Mesa University back in January. RMAC Player of the Year Brett Green was the only other Oredigger to finish in double figures with 14 points, while senior Chris Goutama ended with nine.
The game started off slowly, with Mines leading by only six at 16-12 with five minutes remaining in the first half. But, Mines closed the half on a 14-4 run to seize a 30-16 lead, and they would never look back. The Orediggers scored the first five points of the second half to push the lead to its largest at 35-16. However, the seventh seeded mavericks would not go quietly, and trailing 50-31, mounted a 15-3 run to cut the deficit to 53-46 with 3:20 remaining, the closest they had been since the first half. But the lead was too great, and Mines scored their last ten points from the foul line, pulling away with the sixteen point victory.
The 47 points allowed was the lowest total allowed by Mines all year, one point lower than their previous season low of 48, which came in a 66-48 win against Colorado Mesa in late January.
By scoring 63 points in the win, the Orediggers are now 27-0 in games where they’ve scored more than 60 points and 0-2 in games where they were held below 60 points. The 27 wins sets a new school record for total wins in a season. The previous record was 25 set in 2011.
With the win, Mines is almost assured to be one of the eight teams in the country to host the regional portion of the NCAA Division II National Tournament. A number one seed would give Mines the possibility of playing up to three rounds of the national tournament at Lockridge Arena. Mines will be making its third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.