Lions' peeks lead to valley
Sometimes, looks really can kill.
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Mountain Lions took a few peeks too many Monday night, falling to 0-7 with an 88-68 defeat to the Colorado Christian Cougars (9-1) at Lakewood.
At times, CU-Colorado Springs was able to make Colorado Christian pay for its aggressive, gambling press defense by moving the ball upcourt quickly. Too often, however, the Mountain Lions stopped and surveyed the court, allowing the Cougars to finish trapping the ballhandler and close down the passing lanes.
The first series of looks resulted in a 16-5 run that allowed the Cougars to take control of what had been a close first half. That was followed by a peep show leading to a 21-4 run opening the second period that put CU-Colorado Springs in a hole too deep to dig itself out of.
"Our guys really executed the game plan for the first 10 minutes and the last five minutes of the first half," said CU-Colorado Springs coach Marty Fletcher. "Then we got a little tired and started taking shortcuts like not going to the basketball."
But apart from those two stretches, the Mountain Lions played even up against a Colorado Christian team that had beaten them by 39 points less than three weeks ago. That newfound parity showed itself most in the early going, when CU-Colorado Springs used quick, decisive passing to break the press and get easy layups.
"We have a set play called "transition," that's what we're always looking to do (against the press)," said guard Jimmie Pack, who scored a career-high 16 points while shooting 7-for-7 from the field and 2-for-2 from the foul line. "A lot of teams put their big men back (as the last line of defense), and they aren't as quick as us little guys. It was really working there for awhile."
It was working clean up to the point that Jim Pecic made a pair of free throws to tie the game at 17 with 13:25 remaining in the first half. It was Pecic's first action since tearing his Anterior Cruciate Ligament late last season.
"I was nervous before the game but once I got in it was all gone," said Pecic, who finished with two points and two rebounds in five minutes of action. "I just wanted to come in and be solid and not try to do too much."
Colorado Christian closed the half strong, going into the locker room with a 42-34 lead. Before seven minutes had run off in the second half, the Cougars had extended the lead to 63-38.
"I was disappointed we didn't play better defense starting the second half," said Fletcher. "We weren't covering people and we weren't playing with great energy."
Rather than simply roll over, though, the Mountain Lions stormed back. Thanks to some opportunistic defense, CU-Colorado Springs worked itself back into the game with a 17-5 run that reduced the lead to 11. During that stretch, Jack Bain scored 10 of his team-high 19 points and had two steals.
"We started to move the ball a lot more on offense and Jack Bain hit some really, really big shots," said Pack. "We were making the extra passes, which is something we've been working on all year. It got us back into the game. Unfortunately, we were too far behind."
Center Brent Hobba led Colorado Christian with 22 points, while his backup, Ash Cannan, added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Point guard Matt Vaughn had 15 points and four assists.
Despite their 0-7 record, Monday's game was a good indication of the improvement the Mountain Lions have shown as they've become more and more acclimated to Fletcher's system. That improvement is a goal they plan to keep their eyes on.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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