The top defense in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in points allowed going into this weekend, the South Dakota School of Mines men's basketball team looked the part Saturday after some struggles the night before.
On Saturday, the Hardrockers led for all but a couple of minutes in stopping Colorado Christian University 73-60 at the King Center.
Earlier, the Mines women's team held off Colorado Christian 66-60.
Mines held a good shooting Cougar team to just 37 percent from the field, while putting up an improved offense itself.
Mines coach Eric Glenn said that for the most part the Hardrockers played well against what he calls a dangerous team offensively.
"They have so many shooters out there. They stretch you out and really create some gaps on defense because you have to stay closer," he said. "I thought our guys played out our game-plan. We wanted them to feel uncomfortable and not allow them to run their stuff. We set the tone for that."
The Hardrockers led 34-26 at the halftime break and never let Colorado Christian get any closer than five points in the final 20 minutes. When that happened with six minutes remaining in the game, Mines bounced back with seven straight points, including a 3-pointer from junior Allec Williams.
Glenn said their two main goals at this time is consistency, night in and night out, and more production offensively off the bench.
"They are doing a fine job on defense, but we're not getting there offensively yet," he said. "As soon as that pops, we'll be a much better team and we'll be deeper coming in."
Freshman guard/forward Damani Hayes said the Hardrockers weathered a couple of storms well.
"That team (Colorado Christian), I tip my hat to them because they made some great runs, but as a team we just kept fighting and just kept the lead for most of the game," Hayes said.
Williams has been impressive in the two weeks since returning from the Christmas break, averaging 22 points a game. He finished with a game-high 24 points Saturday, while grabbing 11 rebounds. He hit a career-high 31 points last weekend at Western State
Glenn said the junior has had a good second semester transition.
"Now he has had times to process things and he has come back with a rejuvenated attitude and understanding what we are doing here," Glenn said. "The chemistry is starting to take place with the two freshmen and him. That is three new guys in the starting five. I really like where we are going with those five guys."
Junior Logan Elers also had a big game with 17 points underneath, while Hayes was strong inside and outside, as he matched his career high with 16 points, while grabbing nine rebounds.
"It has been a great fit for me; I'm loving it," Hayes said of his first season at Mines. "I'm playing contributing to the team as much as I can. It's been fun so far."
Glenn calls Hayes the Energizer Bunny with his hustle on the court.
"He's just constantly going and going. He sets a good tone for us out there," he said. "He can do some things with his body and strength. He had two really tough defensive assignments this weekend and he did a tremendous job as a freshman to step into that role."
Justin Engesser, who hit 5-of-6 3-pointers, led the Cougars (3-12 overall, 1-8 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) with 19 points, while Jeremiah Hansen and Jake Homick added 11 points each. As a team, Colorado Christian hit 11-of-27 3-pointers.
With the win, the Hardrockers, 4-5 in the RMAC and 7-10 overall, split the weekend after falling to Regis University 79-66 Friday night.
"We put (Friday night) under the bridge and moved on," Glenn said. "We want to take care of our home court a little better than that, but that is part of the process. We'll take one and we'll what happens next week when we go back out on the road again."
Mines is at Colorado Mines and Colorado Colorado Springs next weekend.