Despite a game-high 27 points from true freshman Dru Kuxhausen on Friday evening, the rest of the Chadron State College men’s basketball team shot under 35 percent from the field and under 20 percent from the three-point arc, falling to Colorado Mesa University at home by a score of 90-71 in the Chicoine Center in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play.
Kuxhausen, who set school and Panhandle records last season for career scoring at Scottsbluff High, was 10-of-22 from the field and helped the Eagles to 41 second-half points in his return from an upper-body injury. He had not contributed significantly since a 28-point showing on December 9 at home against MSU Denver.
“Tonight we saw what Dru is capable of offensively,” said coach Houston Reed. “It’s nice to see him back out of the floor. It’s going to be fun coaching Dru. He has to continue to mature and be a better defender, but obviously he’s a great offensive talent. We’re just going to keep coaching him and helping him become a well-rounded player.”
Mesa, meanwhile, seemed capable of hitting from anywhere on the floor, and finished with a 56.1 shooting percentage including 41.7 percent from beyond the arc. The visitors had two players hit 20 points on the night, in junior guards Emilio Acedo and Connor Nichols, who put up 23 and 20 points, respectively. A third junior guard, Brandon Hoffer, contributed nine assists to a team total of 24.
The Eagles were up early in the contest, leading for most of the first five minutes, and taking a 12-7 lead on a Jeremy Ruffin fadeaway at 15:44 in the first half.
However, the Mavericks shook off the rust and went on a 13-0 run to take a 20-12 advantage at the under-12 media break. They never trailed again.
CSC put together a nine-point spurt early in the second half, but couldn’t keep the gas on long enough to threaten the CMU lead, which hovered in the twenties for much of the remainder of the game.
“I’d like to be able to put my finger on it,” said Reed, “but I felt like we had more energy in our practice yesterday than we did in the first 25 minutes of tonight’s game. Maybe we went too hard and took the juice out of them in practice. We haven’t played at home in a month, and we didn’t come out with the right type of urgency. That might fall on the coach.”
Jeremy Ruffin double-doubled for the Eagles with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He was the game’s leading man on the boards and was the only CSC player besides Kuxhausen to score in double digits.
Chadron State fell to 3-12 and 1-8 in conference, while Mesa improved to 7-7 (3-5 RMAC).
The Eagles will play host to Western State Colorado University on Saturday. The Mountaineers lost 87-75 to Regis University in Denver on Saturday.
Score by half:
Colorado Mesa 44 46 —-90
Chadron State 30 41 —-71
Colorado Mesa—Emilio Acedo 23, Connor Nichols 20, Damon Dubots 12, Brandon Hoffer 9, Kolton Peterson 9, CJ Davis 8, Ludvig Said 4, Ridge Droskin 2, Filip Nowicki 2, Colin Rardin 1. Totals: 37-66 (10-24) 6-14 90 points, 39 rebounds, 10 turnovers.
Chadron State—Dru Kuxhausen 27, Jeremy Ruffin 12, Jaisean Jackson 9, Vonsinh Sayaloune 9, Walker Andrew 8, Matt Reader 6. Totals: 26-68 (6-29) 13-16 71 points, 38 rebounds, 12 turnovers.
3-pointers: Mesa—Acedo 4, Davis 2, Hoffer 1, Nichols 1, Peterson 1, Saidh 1. CSC—Kuxhausen 3, Sayaloune 3.