The CSU-Pueblo men’s basketball team came into the game Friday, Jan. 20, against Chadron State determined to get off to a fast start, and that’s exactly what they did. Starting the game hitting 10 of 11 shots from the field, they took an early first-half lead and never looked back.
Lead by junior guard Ryan Arel, the Pack managed to have their best shooting night so far this season, shooting 60 percent from the field and 55 percent from the three-point line. Arel sparked the team going into the second half knocking down two key three-point shots with just minutes remaining in the first, which gave the Pack a comfortable 17-point lead going into halftime.
Even more impressive than the Pack’s shooting was their staggering defensive performance. The Pack forced the Eagles into 14 turnovers and held them to 41 percent shooting from the field. They didn’t waste opportunities to capitalize on the Eagles’ mistakes either. Of the 14 forced turnovers, the Pack scored 21 points, including 11 fast break points.
The overall team effort allowed the Pack a have great start and maintain the lead throughout. Contributors included Andre Martin’s 18 points, 4 steals, and an emphatic alley-op dunk to spark the crowd of more than 1500. But Martin wasn’t the only one contributing on the offensive end; the Pack had four of their five starters in double-digit scoring.
The Pack dominated almost all statistical categories including rebounds, led by Bryse Velasquez who pulled down seven. Velasquez also scored 18 points along with 11 assists and two steals, a season high for Velasquez.
CSU-Pueblo needed a big performance from Velasquez as they saw their leading scorer Arden Dennis, a junior college transfer, go down with a season-ending knee injury Jan. 14 against Regis University. Dennis had been averaging 14 points a game and shooting 43 percent from three-point territory.
Although Dennis wasn’t missed Friday night this could be a big loss for the Pack in the future as the RMAC schedule continues.