The CSU-Pueblo men’s basketball team (8-12) fell short to New Mexico Highlands University (9-9), 89-86, in the final minutes on Friday, Feb 1, at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
The Thunderwolves started off slow, while NMHU’s Mannie Cass began to unload shots on the Thunderwolves defense. Cass finished with 34 points, but the game remained close until the end of regulation.
“I think we had a few mental lapses and the other team took advantage of that,” guard, Arden Dennis said. “We need to tighten up, stick together and just come back for a win tomorrow.”
Dennis scored 20 points and finished the game with three steals on defense.
The struggles for CSU-Pueblo came on the defensive side of the ball against NMHU and Cass. However, the Thunderwolves managed to keep the score close, as they gained the lead three times.
“Their team shot really well, but our men still showed some heart out there,” coach Ralph Turner said. “No. 2(Cass) was on fire. He was blasting like LeBron James at 6’9” and that was the difference in the game.”
“Tomorrow we have to come with more heart, tough defense and be ready,” Turner said. “The worst is to lose on a Saturday and have to wait all those days to play next Friday, to take that bad taste out of your mouth.”
“We get our chance tomorrow to do just that,” Turner continued to say.
The first half ended in CSU-Pueblo’s favor with the Thunderwolves up by five points. The lead however was short-lived, as NMHU played a very strong second half, outscoring the Thunderwolves 51-43 in the half.
With clock winding down and the Thunderwolves only trailing by two, gave up a dunk with 30 seconds left, to increase the NMHU lead 87-83.
CSU-Pueblo’s Jed Knafelc hit a 3-pointer as time expired but it was not enough. The teammates hung their heads low as they walked off the court and NMHU cheered as the team made its way to the locker room.
CSU-Pueblo’s high hopes hit a low tide, but the team is planning to come back on Saturday to pull out a much-needed win.
This loss will cause a drop in the RMAC standings.
The Thunderwolves, now 8-12, will take on Western New Mexico University in another RMAC game on Saturday, Feb. 2.
The game will start at 7:30 p.m., in the Massari Arena.