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Free Throws Push No. 12 Orediggers To 69-63 Triumph

Free Throws Push No. 12 Orediggers To 69-63 Triumph

GOLDEN – The No. 12 Colorado Mines men's basketball squad made 31-of-41 free throws, including a 19-of-27 effort in the second half, to post a 69-63 RMAC victory over upset-minded Western State on Saturday evening at Lockridge Arena in Golden.

The Orediggers (15-2, 11-2 RMAC) shot just 42.9 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from 3-point land in the matchup, but a big 41-to-14 advantage on free throw attempts fueled the victory. Western State (6-11, 4-9 RMAC) made just seven of their 14 free throw attempts which led to the loss despite a big 29-point effort from its bench.

The two squads battled back-and-forth to start the contest with Mines going up 10-9 on a pair of free throws by Trevor Wages with 13:45 to play in the first half. CSM then went on an 11-4 run through the next 5:04 of the game to go up by a 21-13 margin – capped off by a pair of free throws by senior Dale Minschwaner.

The Orediggers continued to pour it on, increasing their lead throughout the remainder of the first half behind 10 points by Minschwaner and eight points by redshirt freshman Trevor Ritchie.

Mines used a 22-to-14 advantage on points in the paint during the first stanza, as well as a 12-of-14 effort from the foul line en route to racing to a 37-21 halftime lead.

Western State would came out of the halftime break to mount a 20-8 run through the first 8:01 of the second half, trimming the CSM lead to 45-41. A layup by Minschwaner and a 3-point basket by Brett Green would stall the Moutaineers' run and push the Mines' lead back out to nine at 50-41 with 9:58 to play.

A 3-pointer by Jordan Adams with 9:12 to go trimmed the CSM lead to 50-46, and another 3-pointer by Adams just over a minute later trimmed the CSM lead to 53-50. Nico Mucci rattled home a pair of free throws to put Mines up 57-52 but a 3-pointer on the next possession by Alex Hart cut the lead back down to 57-55 with 6:36 to go. 

The Mountaineers' front court then got into foul trouble, with both six-foot, nine-inch Charles Joseph and six-foot, six-inch Kairo Rochford fouling out with over five minutes remaining. Wages then took control, using a new found size advantage to bang in a layup in the paint with 4:10 remaining to put CSM up 61-55.

A pair of free throws by Green increased the Mines lead to 63-55, but a layup by Hart with 2:19 to go trimmed the lead back to six at 63-57. The two squads would go scoreless until Green knocked in a pair of free throws with 41 seconds to go to put the Orediggers ahead 65-57. Weylan Towns knocked in his 14th and 15th points of the night during the next possession on a layup to trim the CSM lead back to 65-59.

An emphatic dunk by Minschwaner with five seconds remaining served as the final dagger, putting CSM up 69-61. 

Minschwaner led the squad with 20 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the season and the 20th of his career. He finished 7-of-12 from the floor while adding a block and an assist in 33 minutes. 

Wages joined Minschwaner in the double-double club on Saturday with a 10-point, 11-rebound  performance for his fifth double-double of the season. It was the first time two Orediggers recorded double-doubles in the same game since Minschwaner and Gordon Galloway teamed up for a pair against New Mexico Highlands on January 2, 2011.

Green added 17 points, including a 10-of-11 effort from the foul line. Green was 8-of-9 from the charity stripe in the second half.

The Orediggers will be home again next weekend when they host Chadron State and Nebraska-Kearney on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

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