COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — New Mexico Highlands men’s basketball senior Mannie Cass was named Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week, the league office announced on Dec. 16.
On the weekend of Dec. 13-14, New Mexico Highlands University (6-4 overall, 3-3 RMAC) defeated Western State 101-99 (2OT) on Friday, Dec. 13, before falling to Colorado Mesa 82-61 on Saturday, Dec. 14.
Cass finished the weekend with 60 points, including a career-best 41 in Highlands’ win over Western State. For the game, he shot 11 for 16 (68.8 percent), including 2 of 5 (40 percent) from beyond the arc and 17 for 19 (89.5 percent) from the charity stripe. Against the Mountaineers, he also had six rebounds, three assists, three blocks and a steal.
The next evening against Colorado Mesa, Cass had 19 points with an 8-for-9 mark (88.9 percent) from the free-throw line.
Cass also had three blocks against the Mavericks, finishing the weekend with six rejections. In the six games prior this season, Cass had only two blocks total.
Against Western State, Cass helped extend the game not once, but twice. In regulation with the Cowboys trailing 83-80 with 1.8 seconds remaining, senior Stuart Sullivan threw a pass from underneath the opponent’s basket to junior Jeverik Nelson to the top of the key. Nelson shoveled the ball to Cass on the left side of the court behind the arc, and Cass drained the three to send the game into overtime. In the first extra period, Cass hit an off-balance jumper in the lane with a second left to send the game to the second overtime.
In the second OT, Cass hit a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left, and the two points ended up being the final margin of the game.
Cass is the second Highlands basketball player to be named RMAC Player of the Week. Senior China Smith of the women’s basketball team won conference Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 11.
For the season, Cass is averaging 18.7 points per game, shooting 49.5 percent from the floor, including 38 percent from 3-point range. He has made 64 of 76 free throws —easily the Cowboys’ most prolific foul shooter — and leads the squad with 84 percent accuracy.