It wasn't the opening night of the conference slate that either South Dakota School of Mines basketball teams had in mind.
Mines welcomed Metro State-Denver for the first game of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play and the Hardrocker women fell to the Roadrunners 70-58, while the men fell 61-58.
"All is not lost on one game," Mines women's coach Ryan Larsen said. "I really like this team and we're going to be fine, but we have to fix some things. We have to be better than how we're playing right now."
Larsen is dealing with a lack of bodies in the post, and it came back to bite the Hardrockers in their first RMAC game of the season.
Mines was outrebounded 40-24.
“We weren’t locked in defensively. We gave up easy baskets and they were real easy baskets,” Larsen said. “I wish I had a real good explanation for it, but the way they scored was stuff we’d been over.
“That’s two games in a row we’ve gotten out-physicaled. We have to get that fixed. They doubled us up on the rebounds and you’re not going to win many games doing that.”
It was a defensive first quarter in the opening minutes, as both teams struggled to score early,
MSU-Denver was the first to make a run, as a pair of shots from Georgia Ohrdorf went down to give the Roadrunners an early 6-2 advantage.
Ohrdorf had six points in the first quarter and 27 for the game. Cooper Courtney and Sami Steffeck led the Hardrockers with 13 points.
The game’s leading rebounder was Mikala Gordon of MSU-Denver, who had 11.
The Hardrockers would end the quarter on a run, taking the lead at 10-9 with 1:21 left in the quarter.
MSU-Denver would end the quarter on a 3-0 run and led 12-11 after the first 10 minutes.
In the second quarter, the Roadrunners came out of the gates strong, but by the time the media timeout came, Mines tied the game at 18.
The two teams would end the quarter tied at 27.
Although MSU-Denver outshot Mines (45.8 percent to 33.3 percent) the Roadrunners went only 1-of-5 from the free-throw line in the first half while Mines went 5-of-6.
The Roadrunners came out of the locker room on fire, scoring the first 12 points of the half and holding the Hardrockers scoreless for the first 4:05 of the quarter.
Getting off to a good second-half start was something MSU-Denver was able to make a habit of.
“There’s no reason for that, there’s no excuse,” Larsen said. “Give them credit for making those baskets, but it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen or talked about."
Mines would cut into the lead before the end of the quarter, but still trailed MSU-Denver after 30 minutes, 48-42.
The Roadrunners got off to another fast start in the fourth, scoring the first 11 points and holding Mines without a point for the first 4:53 of the period, and at that point it was too late.
MSU-Denver outscored the Hardrockers 22-16 in the fourth quarter.
Despite the loss, Larsen said injuries to his post players has been a hard transition, but that he still believes in his team.
“We’re really injured," he said. "In reality, we reinvented ourself this week. We had three practices where we were playing with four guards. So that’s going to take some time.”
Mines is now 4-2 on the season and 0-1 in the RMAC. It will take on the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs today at 3:30 p.m. at the King Center.
Mines men fall late to MSU-Denver
The Mines men's basketball team is young and still trying to find its identity. Although the group played MSU-Denver tough, the Roadrunners prevailed down the stretch.
"Honestly, they got a few good bounces," Mines coach Jason Henry said. "They got a couple of bank shots, and that's the stuff you hope happens to you at home. They had to make the plays and we made them earn it."
The game was a back-and-forth affair in the first half, with Mines leading most of the way.
The Hardrockers took an early 6-5 lead and turned into a 16-12 lead until MSU-Denver started its comeback, and at the half the score was tied at 26.
Mines didn’t have an answer for Cameron Williams, who had 16 points in the first half alone and finished with 24. Peter Moller also added 19 points for the Roadrunners.
Despite those two having big nights for MSU-Denver, Henry said he was happy with how his team clamped down defensively on the other members of the team.
"Our defense from last Tuesday (a 92-81 loss to Mary) to tonight is a complete 180, and I'm proud of the guys on that side of it," he said. "We made some mistakes on some of their better players, but you're going to do that against good players. We bounced back."
Jake Heath led the way for Mines offensively with 16 points, while Logan Elers had five rebounds. Bounama Keita and Jaryn Taylor of MSU-Denver led the game in rebounds with nine each.
In the second half, Williams and the Roadrunners threw the first punch, taking a 35-30 lead at the first media timeout, which stretched into a 42-35 lead with 11:44 to go.
That was when Mines started to make its comeback, and did it by the grace of the 3-point line. The Hardrockers cut the lead to 49-44 with 7:31 to go in the game and a big part of that was clutch 3-pointers hit by Heath and Jack Fiddler.
Mines was 8-of-16 for the game from behind the arc.
"We still have to get touches in the lane. Everyone knows you're shooting 50 or 60 percent, so they're going to stay into them and we're coming off a lot of curls right now," Henry said. "We have to get those touches. We have to be stronger because teams aren't going to allow those guys to just spot up and go."
Mines held down the Roadrunners for the remainder of the game, but was unable to overtake MSU-Denver in the end.
A 3-pointer by Heath made it 57-55 with 54.3 seconds remaining, but that was as close as the Hardrockers would get.
Mines is now 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the RMAC, but Henry said he's still happy with how his team is developing in this young season.
"Bottom line is they compete their butts off, and that's all you can ask for this time of year," he said. "I hate saying that we're so young, but that's the reality of it. For them to compete with a team that has five or six seniors, to be right there at the end is all you can ask for with any team, much less a young team.
"We just have to keep our heads up and know that (tonight) we have to battle again."
Mines takes on UCCS at 5:30 p.m. today.