Kaleb Center, Sports Information Director
CHADRON – A wild ride ensued when the Chadron State College men’s basketball team took the court on Saturday evening in Chadron, with 50 total minutes of basketball in a 77-68 double-overtime win by No. 22 Colorado Mesa University.
“We’re still a work in progress,” said head men’s basketball coach Shane Paben. “We’re far away from where we want to be, and right now we’re still just working on setting expectations. I’ve never had a situation before with as few returners on the roster and the staff, so we’re going through that. We’re looking to set the bar high, like going to NCAA tournaments, and it’s going to take some time.”
There were 14 lead changes and seven ties in the game, and the two teams combined to turn the ball over 48 times.
It was never more than a one possession game through the first 12 minutes of regulation, until back-to-back threes by CSC’s Teddy Parham, Jr., and Brady Delimont put the team up by seven. Another by Psalm Maduakor, with 2:07 showing in the first half, gave the Eagles their biggest lead of the game at 31-23. CSC went into halftime up 33-28.
In the second half, the Eagles started 4-of-22 from the field, allowing the Mavericks to turn a five-point deficit in to a seven-point lead over the course of 13 minutes. CSC point guard Marcus Jefferson stepped up in a big way during the final five minutes of regulation. Driving into traffic again and again, he landed four layups in the team’s final nine possessions, including the tying score with 10 seconds remaining, and also assisted on a Delimont three.
The next five minutes saw the Mavericks take a five-point lead, but slowly and deliberately the Eagles offense took control of the final two minutes of the first overtime. Parham launched a three-pointer with 52 seconds left, and the Eagles forced a turnover. A potential game-winner from Parham missed its mark at the buzzer.
CSC was held to one of six field goals in the final period, and turned the ball over six times in a frenzied comeback attempt, while Mesa hit six of its eight free throw attempts to put them ahead for good.
Mesa big man Ethan Menzies was the game’s leading scorer and rebounder, dropping 22 points and grabbing eight caroms. Mac Riniker followed with 16 points and five boards, with Reece Johnson adding 12 points and five rebounds. Georgie Dancer was the other Mavericks player in double-digit scoring, with 10 points.
For the Eagles, Deion Rhea and Marcus Jefferson combined for nearly half the scoring.
Rhea led in both scoring and rebounding with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting, plus seven rebounds. He also had two blocked shots and three steals.
Jefferson was the leader in assists with five, and scored 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting.
The Eagles sank two more field goals than their opponents, and outscored them from three-point range as well, yet Mesa went to the foul line 30 times, sinking 22 of its shots, versus CSC’s three free throw points in only four attempts.
Chadron State is scheduled for one more game before the new year. The Eagles are to travel to Colorado Springs for a December 18 tip at UCCS, which is 1-2 to start the season. No outside spectators will be permitted.