CHADRON, Neb. — January 26, 2019 — The Chadron State College men’s basketball team lead for more than 30 minutes on Saturday night in the Chicoine Center in Chadron, but the visiting Colorado School of Mines Orediggers forced a pair of turnovers and drew five fouls in the last minute and a half to pull away from a tie ballgame and win 82-75 to extend their unbeaten start in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play to 13 games.
Chadron State fell to 10-9 (8-5 RMAC) while Mines improved to 16-3 overall.
“Mines showed why they’re undefeated in league play tonight,” said CSC Head Men’s Basketball Coach Houston Reed. “They have players that have been in a lot of tight games down the stretch, and they know how to close. Our guys played with a lot of guts, but we left some plays on the floor that we are capable of making. We look forward to watching the film, getting back in the gym and improving as we begin this road swing.”
The Eagles appeared in control early, feeding the ball to senior Adoum Mbang inside for three of four trips down the floor and getting a long ball from junior Michael Sparks to drop in an early sequence that put them up 15-8 at th 13:51 mark in the first half. A three-point play by senior Diontae Champion at 11:53 made it 20-13.
A three from sophomore Brady Delimont at 6:51 gave CSC its first double-digit lead over the league-leading Orediggers. CSC took its largest lead of the game with 48 seconds remaining until the midpoint break, at 13 points up, and led 43-32 at halftime.
Out of the break, Mines’ true freshman guard Brendan Sullivan nabbed six quick points and freshman forward Austin Means added five, as the Orediggers held the Eagles to one field goal in over six minutes, cutting the lead to three points.
The game momentum turned at a couple of different points when the Eagles’ big men were whistled repeatedly. Mbang picked up his first three fouls in a three-minute stretch of the second half, putting him on the bench until 11:34 to play when senior Charles Gavin picked up his fourth personal. With Gavin out, freshman Jacob Jefferson picked up another quick three fouls between the 10 and five minute marks, bringing Gavin back in for little more than a minute before he picked up his fifth.
It was in that final 10 minutes that the visiting Orediggers went on their run by taking the foul line 10 times, with at least one point each time. They also hit nine of their final 13 field goals to swing the game by 18 points total over that stretch.
Means, Sullivan, and sophomore Mason Baker each had three-point plays in the second half, draining free throws following a made basket and a whistle.
Sullivan led his team, and the game with 20 points. Senior center Ben Clare finished with 18 on 7-of-10 shooting. Both Clare and sophomore forward Michael Glen, who scored 15, had double-doubles with 10 rebounds apiece.
For the Eagles, Sparks, Mbang, Jeremy Ruffin, Colby Jackson, and Jordan Mills each finished in double-figure scoring. Ruffin’s 11 rebounds gave him a double-double as well, and he shot the best on the team with 4-of-6 made field goals. Jackson added five assists.
A new Chicoine Center attendance mark of 961 was set for the men’s game Saturday night.
The Eagles will be faced with six of their final nine games on the road, although the upcoming weekend will be a short trip. CSC travels to Spearfish, South Dakota on Friday, and Rapid City on Saturday, to face Black Hills State and South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. The doubleheaders begin at 5:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., respectively.