Mountain Lions get peek at future in loss
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Mountain Lions looked across the floor at the Lions' Den Friday night and saw what they might be when they grow up.
The Colorado Christian Cougars not only beat the Mountain Lions 96-60 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opener for both teams, they gave them a glimpse of their future. A future that is perhaps not so distant as Friday's score might indicate.
Not so very long ago, the Cougars were a struggling program with good young talent and a new, defensive-minded coach with a solid pedigree. After Friday's win, a now veteran Colorado Christian team and coach Brannan Hays are 4-1 and a legitimate playoff contender.
"They are a veteran team," said Fletcher, "(Colorado Christian) beat Northern Colorado at Northern Colorado. The only team they lost to was nationally ranked."
And while the Mountain Lions are now 0-5, they are laden with young talent which is just now learning the intricacies of veteran coach Marty Fletcher's time-tested system.
Friday, one of those talented, young players gave the 240 fans in attendance a preview of things to come. Sophomore forward Dan Deveau scored a career-high 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including 3-for-6 from 3-point range.
But that wasn't enough to keep the Mountain Lions from falling into the Cougars' trap. Their trap defense, that is.
A Deveau layup gave CU-Colorado Springs a 28-27 lead with 9:50 remaining in the first half. Six Mountain Lion turnovers later, the Cougars rolled into halftime with a 49-32 lead.
"They capitalized on our mistakes," said Fletcher. "I was pleased with the way we performed the first 10 or 12 minutes."
During the intermission, CU-Colorado Springs seemed to solve the defensive puzzle. The Mountain Lions opened the second period with an 8-2 run that had them thinking upset.
Then, they were trapped again.
CU-Colorado Springs committed 18 turnovers over the final 16:46 as the Cougars outscored the Mountain Lions 45-20 the rest of the way.
"It's a building process and we're not quite ready to put 40 minutes together," said Fletcher. "We play at a very high level for eight or 10 minutes and then, when we're not playing at that level, we drop so far down."
Micah Kohls scored a team-high 18 points for Colorado Christian, which exploited CU-Colorado Springs' lack of a powerful post presence. The Cougars' big post men, Kohls, Brent Hobba and Ash Cannon, combined for 33 points on 16-for-25 shooting.
Veteran forward Jack Bain had 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists for CU-Colorado Springs. Fellow senior Casey Gutting added 13 points.
Matt Vaughn, who came into the game third in the RMAC in scoring at 18.6 points per game, had 15 points and five assists for the Cougars Friday night. Lance Goeddel added 13 points and Steve Henderson had 10. Kohls added to his scoring by leading Colorado
Christian with nine rebounds.
While CU-Colorado Springs had high peaks and abysmal valleys, Colorado Christian remained on a much more level plain.
"Nobody can play at the highest level all of the time," said Fletcher. "What we need to do is shrink down that margin (between good performance and poor performance). That has a lot to do with mental toughness. It really is a maturing process."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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