UCCS one pass short against Metro State
COLORADO SPRINGS- The 466 standing, screaming fans, crammed into every nook, crevice and window of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' diminutive Lions' Den, made the statement better than the players could have.
The Mountain Lions are for real.
But there are still some things that will have to wait. One of those will be their first-ever win against Metro State.
Marquise Carrington stepped in front of Bly McGuire's pass with 21 seconds remaining then drained a pair of free throws to lift the No. 10-ranked Roadrunners to an 87-82 victory over UCCS Saturday night.
Metro State (17-2, 10-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) was leading 83-82 when Michael Bahl missed the front end of a one-and-one. McGuire came down with the rebound, dribbled upcourt and fired a pass to Patrick Hannaway, who had the Roadrunners at a two-on-one disadvantage.
Carrington came, seemingly out of nowhere, to intercept the pass.
"They'd been trapping the rebounder all game and I figured if I got by them we'd have an advantage downcourt," said McGuire. "I didn't see him."
Even after Carrington's heroics, UCCS (14-5, 7-4 RMAC) had a chance to tie. Nic Fuller found Hannaway in the right corner, and the senior heaved a cross-court pass to Joe Scott, who was wide open. Scott's shot was just short with less than three seconds left.
"(Hannaway) was supposed to get the shot in the corner but the guy was on him pretty good," said McGuire. "He threw a skip pass to Joe. That's as good a look as we could have hoped for."
Two more Metro State free throws provided the final margin.
Carrington led the Roadrunners with 23 points and five steals. Michael Bahl added 18 points. The duo combined to make 11 of their 16 3-point attempts.
Hannaway and McGuire each had 22 points for UCCS, while Fuller added 15 and Scott had 10. McGuire and Kyle Perkins each grabbed eight rebounds while Hannaway had a career-high eight assists.
Metro State has won all 28 meeting between the two teams, but there was no hint of dominance in this game. The Mountain Lions were, play-for-play and stat-for-stat, the equal of the powerful Roadrunners. UCCS was even able to break down Metro's vaunted full-court trap defense.
"We watched film on it all week and knew that there were a lot of open spots if we flashed and looked opposite side from the middle," said McGuire.
With the Mountain Lions having success against the press they built a 27-21 lead in the game's first 10 minutes thanks to six points each by Hannaway and McGuire and five each by Scott and Fuller.
Metro State was able to not only erase the lead, but even went to the intermission with a 42-39 lead by switching to a sagging zone with the point man overplaying the lateral pass above the key.
"With the trapping zone you have to be aggressive," said McGuire. "When they went to the soft zone we lost some of our aggressiveness."
Metro State led by as many as 10 in the second half before the Mountain Lions came back again, making Carrington's heroics necessary.
And while such a performance against a nationally-ranked opponent would, in the past, have brought smile, the UCCS players had only the seething frustration of a missed opportunity. In one season, the Mountain Lions have gone from a 5-22 patsy to a legitimate contender that no longer has a stomach for "moral victories."
Afterwards, McGuire grudgingly admitted that UCCS had played a great game. He wasn't ready, however, to take any solace in the knowledge.
"If we get into the (RMAC) tournament, we're going to see a lot of teams like (Metro State)," he said. "We played them even; there were just a couple of key plays that made the difference."
For legitimate contenders, that's what it usually comes down to.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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