Jenkins scores 19 with 7 steals; Mountain Lions drop opener 74-55
PUEBLO â€" The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Mountain Lions opened their season with a disappointing 74-55 loss to the No. 4 St. Cloud State Grizzlies Friday night in the first game of the Al Kaly Shrine Classic at the State Fair Events Center in Pueblo.
Despite the final score the game was within reach for the Mountain Lions early in the second half.
The Grizzlies jumped on top early by opening the game with a 5-0 run. Emily Jenkins finally got the Mountain Lions on the board with a layup 3 minutes, 28 seconds into the game.
The Grizzlies continued their dominance over the next 12 minutes and built a 33-11 lead. But because of the Mountain Lions' three preseason exhibition against big Division I teams, the Mountain Lions were really for the task at hand.
"[The exhibition games] prepared us in so many ways to play a game like this," said Jenkins. "We were prepared to play the big post and were able to shut them down compared to how they normally play. We also learned that we need turnovers to win games."
Perhaps the Grizzlies began to let down seeing as there was only 3:57 remaining in the half, or they simply believed the game was in the bag being up 33-13. Whatever the reason, the Grizzlies began to let down. Jenkins took full advantage by snatching three steals, all of which ended in breakaway layups. The Mountain Lions ended the half with a 10-4 run to pull within 15 points, 37-23.
"[The 10-4 run] was a great momentum builder," said coach Jessika Stratton. "I think we started to realize that we could play with this basketball team and gave us the confidence to know we had a chance to win the game."
The Mountain Lions showed that confidence by building upon the momentum they had created at the end of the half. The second half began with a 20-6 run by the Mountain Lions that pulled them to within 45-43 with 12:41 remaining.
"We were so excited to know how close we were and didn't want to give up," said Jenkins. "But we ended up missing four layups in a row and they took us on a run late."
The two-point deficit was as close as the Mountain Lions would get and poor shooting late opened the door for the Grizzlies to run the score up. The Grizzlies never allowed the Mountain Lions to hold a lead in the game partially due to a high pressure defense which forced a 15.4 percent 3-point shooting performance by the Mountain Lions.
Jenkins led all scorers with 19 points and had a game-high seven steals. Nancy Hoist led the Mountain Lions with six rebounds and pitched in 15 points and four steals as well. Tonya Tripp added eight points. The return of Jenkins to the lineup this season is a sight for sore eyes.
Jenkins led the Mountain Lions in rebounds (7.8/game) and was second in scoring (9.1/game) in the 2003-04 season after transferring from Big Bend Community College. After missing the 2005-06 season due to personal reasons, Jenkins was invited back to the team for the 2006-07 season and is showing what she can do with a second opportunity.
"After sitting out a year, [Jenkins] got the opportunity to play again and it's showing in her play," said Stratton. "She's a very good basketball player and changes the face of the game for us."
Sitting out a year is never easy for any athlete, and with rest usually comes rust. However, Jenkins doesn't seem to be showing any ill-effects of missing last season.
"It took a little while to get my timing back, but I've worked really hard to get back into it," said Jenkins.
The loss gives the Mountain Lions a lot of hope for the rest of the season, especially for Jenkins, the Mountain Lions' co-captain.
"After a game like this it's really exciting to know that we are that good and that we can compete with those [top] teams."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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