Mountain Lions strafed by Air Force

By Doug Fitzgerald published November 19, 2005

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs had a learning experience Saturday at the Air Force Academy. The Mountain Lions learned from the Falcons that there is a difference between Division I and Division II basketball. UCCS also learned how effective precise execution and all-out hustle can be.

They also learned how to play rugby, because this was no basketball game.

Air Force defeated the Mountain Lions 77-45. The score was a sidelight to the real action, though.

Had UCCS center Bly McGuire experienced the same amount of holding, clutching and grabbing in an office environment as he did at Clune Arena Saturday, he could have made a bundle with a sexual harassment suit. Punching, gouging and slapping were also fair game.

"Thatâ€TMs Division I - there's going to be a lot of contact," said McGuire, who managed 10 points. "You have to try to keep going as hard as you can."

The Mountain Lions seemed stunned by the physicality from the outset. UCCS made only two of its first seven field goal attempts and committed eight turnovers in the first nine minutes as Air Force bulled its way to a 24-4 lead.

"(The Falcons) execute really tough," said UCCS forward Pat Hannaway, who led the Mountain Lions with 12 points and 11 rebounds. "They back-cut so well, if you get dribbled towards, they'll go back door. We tried to play a tight defense but they just execute so well."

The Mountain Lions calmed down after the initial assault, getting as close as 12 before ending the half down 41-20.

"The first half was a learning curve," said Hannaway. "We started to see that we could actually play with these guys, that they're also human. That's the way we have to go into every game."

UCCS continued to hang with the Falcons in the second half, but poor shooting allowed Air Force to extend its lead.

"We only had four turnovers in the second half, so we did a better job there," said UCCS coach Lance Hammond. "But we go 1-for-11 from (3-point range) and 8-for-32 overall. When you shoot the ball like that, you're going to have a tough time winning."

One player who shot well was reserve guard Leo Thomas, who had 10 of UCCS' 14 bench points. The transfer from Cerritos Junior College in Lakewood, Calif., went 4-for-7 from the field, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range.

So what does a 32-point loss to a good Division I program really mean as far as the Mountain Lions' prospects for the future are concerned?

Nothing, really. At least it means nothing if they follow a teammate's advice.

"We've got 11 days until our next game. Coach is going to have some drills for us to get better and better," said Thomas. "We just have to stay together as a team. Chemistry is the key. If we keep together we're going to be a great team."

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Bly McGuireBly McGuire33CSr.
Bly McGuireBly McGuire33CSr.
Leo ThomasLeo Thomas12GJr.
Leo ThomasLeo Thomas12GJr.
Leo ThomasLeo Thomas12GSr.
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