Brian Muller sank two clutch free throws with 16 seconds left in overtime Saturday to help Colorado School of Mines (4-2, 1-1 RMAC) avoid an upset at New Mexico Highlands (3-2, 1-1).
The Orediggers, unofficially 29th in the nation, won 89-84 after outscoring NMHU 15-10 in the overtime period. But it was a two-point game before Muller’s foul shots made it 88-84. Highlands’ Lavell McDade missed a three-pointer on the other end, and Ruben Jackson corralled the rebound, drawing a foul with four ticks left. Jackson made just one free throw, but the outcome was assured.
Mannie Cass, a 6-7 junior wing, led Highlands with a season-high 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting.
Lionel Coleman (14 points), McDade (13 points, six assists) and Roland Fitch (10 points, seven boards) also led NMHU.
Trevor Wages had a monster night for Mines with 30 points and 14 rebounds.
Boasting 14 lead changes and a half-dozen ties, this contest was anything but a chip shot for the Orediggers, who’d been ranked as high as 13th in the national coaches’ poll.
The Cowboys trailed by as many as 12 in the second half but hacked away at the lead and moved in front 74-72 on a pair of Augustus French free throws with 48 seconds left in regulation.
But Mines’ Trey Winbush drew a foul on the other end shortly thereafter and also swished both foul shots, ultimately forcing overtime.
Cowgirls 84, Orediggers 82
Alyssa Lopez’s layup in the closing seconds lifted NMHU past Mines in the women’s game earlier Saturday at the Wilson Complex.
The game-winning bucket was a cherry-on-top moment for Lopez, who scored a game-high 24 points for Highlands (2-4, 2-0).
The Cowgirls won for the second time in as many nights to get to 2-0 in league play after an 0-4 start.
Kate Cryderman added 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting and Indre Mikelenaite had 10 points and five rebounds for NMHU.
Highlands shot just 39 percent but got extra chances with 17 offensive boards. The Cowgirls also took care of the ball and were credited with just five turnovers.
NMHU was 24 of 33 at the foul line.