The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team finally broke into the win column in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play last Saturday night.
Behind double-doubles from Donovan Oldham and Corey Seng, the ThunderWolves defeated Dixie State 77-66 (4-4 overall, 2-3 RMAC) on Saturday night in St. George, Utah. That win was the first in five conference outings for the Pack, who had dropped a 95-89 overtime heartbreaker to Westminster (4-5, 2-3) on Friday, its sixth consecutive loss. Gavin Liggett had 24 points, all from the 3-point line (8) to lead the way.
But Oldham, the Pack's leading scorer, poured in 23 points and added 10 rebounds and Seng had 10 points and 10 rebounds as CSU-Pueblo snapped the losing streak. Four players finished in double figures as Tyson Gilbert scored 14 and Gavin Liggett had 13.
"Only eight turnovers in the first game (against Westminster)," CSU-Pueblo coach Ralph Turner said. "That's a season low for us. We're going in the right direction. We actually had the last shot in regulation that just didn't fall.
"Our kids played hard this weekend, getting better. Our young guys needed (that win). It's there, we just have to keep playing."
Turner mentioned Seng, Tyson Gilbert and Harvey Barr as players who are coming on.
"Corey had two great games and Tyson stepped into a starting role as a true freshman and was close to a triple-double in one of the games.
"And Harvey has become a defensive force for us. When he's aggressive defensively, he can block a lot of shots."
The Pack has 17 games remaining after the break, which comes at a good time, according to Turner.
"Our guys get a chance to get away from basketball, take a break and come back in January and get after it," Turner said. "Six of our first eight games are on the road in January, so we'll be ready."
While the men were celebrating their first conference win of the season, the CSU-Pueblo women were beaten in league for the first time on Friday by Westminster. The Pack was outrebounded 46-33 in the game.
The women did bounce back to defeat Dixie State on Saturday night as Khiya Adams had a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Jennah Knafelc added 18 and Sydni Williams 12 in the win. The weekend split left the Pack with a 6-5 overall record and 4-1 mark in the RMAC heading into the break.
Colorado Mesa and Westminster lead the loop with 5-0 records. The Mavericks are 8-1 overall, the Griffins 7-2 overall.
"We got a split and I felt good about that since both teams are veteran teams," said CSU-Pueblo coach Curtis Loyd about the weekend jaunt to Utah. "They are a good addition to the conference and we knew they would be tough.
"In the first game, we didn't minimize our mistakes at the end and they capitalized. As all good teams they had people step up and we couldn't guard them at the end of the game."
The Pack had a much better time against Dixie State.
"The next night (Dixie) runs a Princeton offense and they kids weathered the storm with that. Our last 10 defensive possessions were stops and it's really glorifying for this group to be able to do that."
Jennah Knafelc moved ahead of Khiya Adams as the team's leading scorer over the weekend. She is averaging 13.6 points a game, Adams 13.5.
Loyd is looking forward to the holiday break although he wants his team to remain focused.
"I thought we really started playing well at the end," Loyd said. "I told the team to take time away from basketball but do something related to basketball. We'll do that and get back after it after the break."
The teams now have the holidays off until January when the league will resume. Both teams return to action Jan. 5 and 6 with two more road games at Colorado Christian and Regis.
RMAC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL STANDINGS
Black Hills State;4-1;8-1
South Dakota Mines;1-4;3-5
New Mexico Highlands;1-4;3-9
RMAC MEN'S BASKETBALL STANDINGS
Black Hills State;5-0;6-3
New Mexico Highlands;4-1;8-2
South Dakota Mines;2-3;4-8