In the end, the slower pace won by a nose.
Senior forward Davin Guinn scored a game-high 19 points and junior Evan Roberts added 15 off the bench as the Broncos maintained a share of the Southwestern League lead Tuesday night with a 63-56 triumph over pesky Murrieta Mesa, which has become the surprise team in the area this season.
Vista Murrieta, which defeated then top-ranked Murrieta Valley (4-1 league) on Thursday, stayed away from the trap-slash-letdown at Mesa's gym, but only after the Broncos (12-8, 4-1 league) surged ever so methodically ahead of the Rams (15-7, 3-2) in the fourth quarter.
"Our game plan in the game was to be patient and not play their pace," Vista Murrieta coach Andy Rucker said. "Conversely, I'm not sure they were comfortable playing at our pace."
Senior center Nathan Wright scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Rams, who failed to outscore the Broncos despite attempting 22 more field goals in the first half, and 30 overall. Mesa created plenty of open looks, but shot 31 percent (21-of-67) from the floor, while Vista Murrieta shot a far more efficient 51 percent (19-of-37).
"We knew they would zone us a little bit and we'd get some shots that we needed," Mesa coach Russell Ham said. "But we did struggle from the 3-point line, and I think they counted on that."
Mesa, in just its second full season as a varsity team, turned heads by winning 10 consecutive games earlier this season and nearly upsetting Murrieta Valley on the road last week . The Rams played a spirited game in front of their home crowd and seemed to have things in control until the second quarter.
That was when the Broncos started going to Roberts, who averages 3.9 points per game but found his groove. He hit three 3-pointers in the frame and put his team ahead after Mesa had built a six-point lead.
Roberts' 15 points was easily his season high.
"He's probably our best pure shooter," Rucker said. "Given the right opportunity, he's very good."
The two teams tied at the half and at the end of three quarters before Mesa's bombs-away offense faded in the final quarter. Guinn hit 6-of-6 free throws in the final 2 minutes to extinguish the Rams after they had closed to within three when Mesa's Khalil Sharpe hit a 16-footer with 1:41 remaining.
It was a nice finish for Guinn, the Valley's No. 2 scorer who admittedly struggled early Tuesday night.
"My focus definitely had to shift," Guinn said. "The first half, I wasn't getting into the offensive flow, so I had to just start looking for the open man, until the fourth quarter, when we got back into a rhythm."