It was a night of firsts.
The Western Colorado University men’s and women’s basketball teams were back in action this week, after a holiday break. On Tuesday in Paul Wright Gym, the men got their first win of the season while the women dropped their first contest.
The Western men exploded for 51 second half points, and were led by a career high 32 points from Matthew Ragsdale, in downing South Dakota Mines 75-64.
The Mountaineers (1-4 overall, 1-3 RMAC) led 24-22 at the half before starting the second half on an 8-0 run capped by a Ragsdale 3-pointer at the 18:44 mark to make it 32-22. Western pushed its advantage to a gamehigh 18 points after a Jaelan McCloud 3-pointer with 12:41 remaining made it 47-29.
The Hardrockers (3-4 overall, 3-4 RMAC) never got within eight points the rest of the contest as the Mountaineers went 10-for-16 from 3-point range over the final 20 minutes. Western women’s program was able to squeeze in a last minute non-league contest against the Hardrockers on Monday night. They won that affair, 79-72, to push their record to 5-0 and the best start in program history.
But the Mountaineers had to turn around and play South Dakota State again Tuesday afternoon, only this time it was a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference game. And this time they came up on the short end of a 72-68 contest.
Western (5-1 overall, 4-1 RMAC) found itself down 33-24 at the half after being outscored 19-11 in the second quarter and trailed 50-43 heading into the fourth quarter.
But the Mountaineers who dressed only eight players — rallied as a 3-pointer by Samantha Coleman and a jumper by Mikaela Parker in the first minute of the fourth quarter quickly cut it to 50-48. Western eventually tied the game at 52-52 before a layup by Jessie Erickson in the paint with 5:05 left in the game gave the Mountaineers a 56-55 advantage.
Western led 58-57 before a 6-0 run made it 63-58 Mines (3-5, 3-4) with 3:16 left in the contest.
The Mountaineers cut the deficit to one at 69-68 with 17 seconds left and trailed by three with 14 seconds left with a chance to tie, but the gametying 3-point attempt was off and the Mountaineers eventually fell by four.
Both teams host Colorado Christian University this Saturday evening.