Double-Doubles And Free Throws Lift Mines Past NMHU In OT, 89-84
LAS VEGAS, N.M. – Led by double-doubles from Luke Meisch and Trevor Wages, as well as near-perfect free throw shooting down the stretch, the Colorado School of Mines men's basketball team gutted out an 89-84 overtime victory over New Mexico Highlands on Saturday evening in Las Vegas, N.M.
Mines (4-2, 1-1 RMAC) shrugged off its conference-opening loss on Friday by attacking the rim all night to the tune of 51 free throw attempts, of which the Orediggers made 38 (74.5 percent).
Wages posted a career-high 30 points and a game-high 14 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. He became the first 30-point scorer in a Mines uniform since All-American Sean Armstrong accomplished the feat on January 3, 2011, against Western New Mexico.
The Preseason All-RMAC pick finished 11-of-15 from the floor while adding three assists, two blocks and a steal in 35 minutes of action.
Sophomore Brian Muller added 25 points and four assists on a 4-of-14 shooting line from the floor, including a 3-of-7 mark from the perimeter, but the Billings, Mont., native did most of his work at the charity stripe with a perfect 14-of-14 effort. He tied a school record for free throw percentage in a game and joins Kyle Pape (12-for-12, Colorado Christian, Jan. 18, 2008) and Sam Handsborough (12-for-12, Chadron State, Feb. 21, 1998) in the Mines' record books.
Meisch posted his second double-double of the season with a season-high 17 point performance while adding 11 rebounds and a steal defensively. He finished 4-of-6 from the field and a perfect 7-of-7 from the foul line to finish one point off his career high for points in a game.
A competitive first half saw just two tie scores but eight lead changes before Mines headed into the break with a 40-36 lead. Mines pushed its lead to as much as 12 points at the 14:58 mark of the second half, before NMHU (3-2, 1-1 RMAC) trimmed the Oredigger lead to two at 60-58 with 11:51 to go.
A 3-point basket by Muller with 11:27 remaining pushed Mines' lead back out to five points at 63-58. The next six-plus minutes of action featured a combined 10 points between the two squads, with Mines continuing to hold a five-point lead at 68-63.
Mines would push its lead to seven points at 72-65 on a layup by Wages – his 27th and 28th points of the night – with 3:41 remaining, but NMHU would claw its way back to within two points at 72-70 with 2:08 to play on a 3-point basket by Mannie Cass.
A pair of free throws by Roland Fitch with 1:17 remaining tied up the game, and another pair of free throws bv Augustus French with 48 seconds remaining pushed NMHU into the lead for the first time since the 7:09 mark of the first half.
A foul by NMHU with 33 seconds remaining put Trey Winbush at the line, and the rookie knocked in both freebies to tie up the score once again at 74-74. Neither squad would be able to score before the end of regulation and the game would move into overtime.
A jumper by freshman Winbush to open overtime pushed Mines back up front, but an old-fashioned 3-point play by Cass pushed NMHU back in front at 77-76 with 3:42 to play. Wages then dumped in his 30th point of the night on a jumper with 3:31 to go to move his squad back in front, 78-77.
The two squads continued to trade points and free throws, with Mines' only points coming via the charity stripe, including a pair of free throws by Meisch that put the Orediggers back out front, 84-81, with 1:07 to go.
The Orediggers would close the game out in typical Mines fashion by making 11 of their last 12 free throws they attempted in securing an 89-84 victory.
Mines will return to the friendly confines of Lockridge Arena next weekend when the squad hosts Chadron State and Black Hills State on Friday and Saturday, respectively.