Pueblo trio sinks Mountain Lions
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs men's basketball team came into Saturday night's game against the Colorado State-Pueblo Thunderwolves with a clear defensive objective - don't let Matt Brooks, Brian Vecchio or Mario Chavez beat them.
It was a clear objective. It wasn't a simple one, though.
The CSU-Pueblo trio combined for 62 points as the Thunderwolves beat the Mountain Lions 80-70, dropping CU-Colorado Springs to 0-16 (0-11 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference).
"We had (Brooks, Vecchio and Chavez) circled on the board. We told the kids that if we limited their looks and made the other kids beat us we could have a very successful evening," said CU-Colorado Springs coach Lance Hammond. "Unfortunately, we just weren't able to do it."
The game was played before a crowd of 539 at the United States Olympic Training Center. The game was moved to the OTC because the in past years, fans have been turned away at the door to the 350-seat Lions' Den on the CU-Colorado Springs campus.
Brooks scored 24 points for CSU-Pueblo. Vecchio added 21 and Chaved had 17. The trio came into the game averaging a combined 40.6 points.
The Thunderwolves led by as many as 15 in the first half, but the Mountain Lions showed some of their better offensive execution to chip away. With only four seconds remaining in the half, Dan Deveau stole the ball from Brian Wood and tossed it upcourt to Patrick Simpson for a layup that cut the lead to 46-39. More importantly, it gave the Mountain Lions a huge emotional lift.
"We're getting better every week," said Hamond. "We took them out of their zone with our zone offense."
CU-Colorado Springs used that lift in the first three minutes of the second half, and even whittled the lead down to 49-47 on a 3-pointer by Torrey Phillips. CSU-Pueblo (9-10, 4-7 RMAC) kept executing its patient, methodical offense, however, and went on a 21-5 run over the next eight minutes.
"Pueblo's very patient," said Hammond. "They understand who needs to shoot the basketball for them to be successful. They have players out there on the floor whose primary just is to penetrate in order to get those guys shots."
The Mountain Lions made extensive use of a zone defense Saturday, something they had done sparingly this season.
"When we guard man we have trouble getting through screens. I thought it would be easier to match up with those three players on the perimeter if we stayed in a zone," aid Hammond. "We didn't do a good enough job staying with them."
Jim Pecic led the Mountain Lions with 18 points and 17 rebounds. Phillips added 13 points for CU-Colorado Springs. Matt Cordova had 12, while Deveau and Simpson each chipped in 11.
While a silver lining is awfully hard to see when you're sitting at 0-17, Hammond was pleased with his team's execution offensively.
"We're getting better. We put our motion offense in at Christmas break and we're getting better at it every week," said Hammond. "I expect us to be better Tuesday night (against Colorado College) than we were tonight."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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