No. 15 ranked team hands UCCS first loss
GUNNISON- Joe Scott's running 3-point attempt at the buzzer came up short as the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs came agonizingly close against the nation's No. 15-ranked team in a 74-71 loss to the Minnesota State, Mankato Mavericks Friday evening at Wright Gym.
Scott was the third option on an inbounds play with 2.6 seconds remaining. He took the pass, spun to his left and launched the ball from the right sideline, 30 feet from the basket. The ball glanced off the front of the rim.
"The play was actually designed for Nic (Fuller) to come off of a curl screen and he, or Pat (Hannaway), were supposed to get the ball," said Scott. "I caught the ball, took a couple of dribbles and tried to pull up. I thought it was going to go in but it came up a little short."
The game was an important measuring stick for the Mountain Lions. After going a combined 6-48 the past two years, UCCS knows it's vastly improved. A 3-0 start to the season stoked optimism but it was Friday's game that confirmed the notion that the Mountain Lions are for real.
"We kind of know where we're at now," said senior center Bly McGuire, who scored 10 points. "That was a good team and (this game) shows us we can play with anybody."
But, unlike the UCCS teams of recent seasons, this one wants nothing to do with moral victories.
"We're all disappointed we lost," said McGuire. "That game was ours and we feel like we lost the game instead of them winning it."
Patrick Hannaway led the Mountain Lions with 30 points. Hannaway, who came into the game shooting a remarkable 80 percent from the field, actually raised his season percentage with a 13-of-15 performance.
Hannaway, who has an uncanny knack of getting himself open, scored most of his points from within 10 feet of the hoop.
"(Minnesota State was) overplaying a lot tonight so we got a lot of back doors. You just have to wait a little bit," said Hannaway. "The help is going to leave and I'm going to be wide open. (My teammates) were hitting me a just the right moment. They were getting me the ball in good position to score."
But Hannaway also played defense. It was his steal that made Scott's final attempt meaningful. With Minnesota State leading by four, Hannaway guessed correctly on a Mavericks inbounds play and made an acrobatic over-the-shoulder interception. He was fouled and made the second of two free throws to cut the lead to three with seven seconds remaining.
"Body language is a big part of communication," said Hannaway. "I saw (Minnesota State's Luke Anderson) give a look like I'm going long," so as soon as he took that step I just released. I knew he was going to try to throw it over the top."
UCCS immediately fouled Paris Kyles, who missed his free throw in a one-and-one situation. Hannaway grabbed the rebound and called timeout to set up Scott's shot.
The Mountain Lions controlled the pace in the first half, forcing the Mavericks into a track meet. UCCS threatened to break the game open, leading by as many as five, but Minnesota State was kept in it because of turnovers.
Apparently, the drive over icy Monarch Pass instilled some kind of Wanderlust into both teams. In the first half alone, the teams combined for a ridiculous 14 traveling calls, nine of which were committed by UCCS.
Minnesota State was able to prevent the Mountain Lions from running in the second half, reducing it to the half-court sets that the Mavericks are more comfortable with.
"They were just conscious of (the running game," said UCCS coach Russ Caton about the second half. "No matter how many we took off with, they had somebody back."
UCCS sophomore Bryan Snyder grabbed a game-high eight rebounds despite playing just 20 minutes.
Luke Anderson led Minnesota State (6-1) with 16 points.
After the game, Caton was a cauldron of mixed emotions. On the one hand, he knew the Mountain Lions' performance against a nationally ranked opponent was far better that nearly anyone could have expected. On the other hand, this was a game that UCCS could have won, and that's a bitter pill for any coach to swallow.
"That was a good experience for us," said Caton, "but we need to learn to play a little smarter at times.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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