UCCS outplayed at Highlands

By Doug Fitzgerald published February 7, 2006

LAS VEGAS, N.M. â€" Despite 19 points by Jennine Sauter, the University of Colorado at Colorado was defeated 73-58 Tuesday night by the New Mexico Highlands Cowgirls at the John A. Wilson Complex.

The Cowgirls made their final 16 free throws and 16 of their final 18 points came from the line as UCCS first fouled because they were out-executed and later because they were trying to preserve time. The effort failed as a prime road opportunity slipped through UCCSâ€TM fingers.

The Mountain Lions (10-12, 7-7 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) werenâ€TMt beaten by being away from home, overwhelming talent or unfortunate calls. They were beaten by a team playing with a greater sense of urgency.

“They completely outplayed us,” said Sauter. “We showed no heart, no intensity, no enthusiasm. We didnâ€TMt come ready to play.”

That shouldnâ€TMt have been the case. ‘Must-winâ€TM is a term thatâ€TMs grossly overused in sports. Putting the hyperbole aside, though, itâ€TMs fair to say that Tuesdayâ€TMs game was a ‘need-to-winâ€TM for the Mountain Lions. UCCS came into the game trailing the RMAC West Division frontrunners Colorado State-Pueblo and Fort Lewis by a game with one game remaining against each. UCCS ended the night trailing by a game-and-a-half and needing help from others to close the gap.

Julie Richards added 17 points for UCCS, 13 of which came in the first half.

Danielle Murphy led New Mexico Highlands (7-13, 4-10 RMAC) with 23 points while making five of her six 3-point attempts. Sheila Sirmans added 11 points, nine of which came from the foul line.

While the Mountain Lionsâ€TM pressure defense has given them an advantage to this point in the season, it was the Cowgirls who proved to be most pesky in the first half. New Mexico Highlands forced 12 UCCS turnovers in the period, leading to a 31-23 advantage in field goal attempts. That advantage showed on the scoreboard as UCCS trailed 32-26 at intermission despite outshooting Highlands 43.5 percent to 38.7 percent.

“Give a lot of credit to New Mexico Highlands,” said UCCS coach Jessika Stratton. “They played very well tonight. Defensively they pushed, they had a hand on the ball. Our guards didnâ€TMt want to handle the ball tonight. It was very difficult to for us get into a flow when we had guards who were scared to bring the ball down the floor.”

The quick hands of the Cowgirls had other consequences. The UCCS fast break was stymied by guards poking the ball away from behind. The Mountain Lions also found it difficult to drive to the basket as the quick hands caused them to bobble the ball.

Already struggling to maintain possession, UCCS point guard Maribeth Martinez picked up her fourth foul early in the second half. Without their primary ballhandler, the Mountain Lionsâ€TM 42-40 lead quickly turned into a 45-42 deficit with 10 minutes remaining.

“Mary is the only person that we feel really handles the ball well,” said Sauter. “When we get in trouble is when people get scared and donâ€TMt want to bring the ball up the floor and thatâ€TMs what happened to our other guards.”

Martinez returned and UCCS quickly tied the game. The Mountain Lions trailed by only four, 57-53, when Martinez fouled out with four minutes remaining. With UCCS struggling to execute its offense and Highlands converting its free throws, the final margin grew far beyond what the game itself dictated.

“Iâ€TMm sick to my stomach (about the loss),” said Sauter. “Weâ€TMre going to come back and weâ€TMre going to fight as hard as we can the rest of the season.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Jennine SauterJennine Sauter21FFr.
Jennine SauterJennine Sauter21FSo
Jennine SauterJennine Sauter21FJr.
Jennine SauterJennine Sauter21FSr.
Julie RichardsJulie Richards40CSo
Julie RichardsJulie Richards40CFr.
Julie RichardsJulie Richards40CJr.
Julie RichardsJulie Richards40CSr.
Maribeth MartinezMaribeth Martinez14GJr.
Maribeth MartinezMaribeth Martinez14G
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