Shooting leads UCCS to season-opening win
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Tonya Tripp had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a season-opening 68-63 victory over the Winona State Warriors Friday evening at the Milk Barn at Disney's Wide World of Sports.
It was the first of three games that the Mountain Lions are scheduled to play at the 2007 Disney's Division II Tip-Off Classic East Coast. The coastal designation is new for this year since the Disney Corp. has just recently added a second tournament in California.
Until the final three minutes of the game, it was a battle of free versus three.
Up to that point, Winona State had outscored UCCS 20-7 from the foul line. At the same point, the Mountain Lions had a 24-9 advantage from 3-point range. Those numbers changed as Winona State, down by eight, fouled to preserve the clock and launched bombs down the stretch.
"Our guards have really been working hard on hitting the 3-pointer," said UCCS coach Jessika Caldwell. "That's something that we stressed from the start of preseason."
Janean Jubic and Candace Thornton each added 10 points for UCCS, while Lauren Holm had nine and Emily Jenkins eight. Jenkins and Nancy Hoist each had six rebounds, while Jubic had a game-high seven assists.
Anna Wurtz and Amanda Reimer each had 16 points to lead Winona State which, being from the Northern Sun Conference, is in the North Central region like UCCS.
Three-pointers by Thornton, Jazzmin Awa-Williams and Jubic helped the Mountain Lions open with a 15-4 lead. Winona State countered with a full-court press that disrupted the UCCS offense and helped the Warriors put together a 17-3 run to take a 28-23 lead.
"When you're looking at only 13 practices under your belt, you throw in as many things as possible," said Caldwell. "We didn't spend as much time as we would have liked on the press break and it showed."
Winona State was up 32-28 when a Holm 3-pointer to provide both a spark and the one-point halftime score.
"It was a momentum changer," said Holm, who made all three of her 3-point attempts in leading UCCS to an 8-for-19 night as a team. "It helped everybody get up and build off of it."
The press was far less effective in the second half as the Mountain Lions methodically pulled way, eventually opening a 14-point lead with 5:38 remaining.
"We were more patient and looked for who was open," said Holm. "We read it better."
The Warriors scored five points in the final 17 seconds to account for the final margin. After opening last season with six straight losses, Friday's win was particularly satisfying.
"It feels so good," said Holm. "Last year we had trouble getting that first win and feeling what it was like. This was a real boost to start our season this way."
"This is the kind of tournament you come to if you have a veteran team," said UCCS athletic director Stephen Kirkham, who participated in the first Disney-sponsored tournament as the coach at Mesa State in 1997 and, in fact, coached in the inaugural game. "You need a veteran team because, since it's so early, there's not enough preparation time."
With 10 players returning, including four starters, from last year's squad, the Mountain Lions certainly qualify as a veteran team. But while that's a good reason to make the trip, it had no bearing on why UCCS got the opportunity to the make the trip to Disney World.
That came by way of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference commissioner J.R. Smith, who enters a men's team in the tournament on even-numbered years and a women's team in odd-numbered years. Kirkham remembered his team's positive experience from his days as a coach and recommended that Caldwell express her interest. Smith did the rest.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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|February 23, 2008||Season ends with loss to Nebraska-Kearney||KEARNEY, Neb. -- Four Mountain Lions scored in double figures but the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs were nonetheless beaten Saturday, 82-67 by the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers at the health and Sports Center.|
|February 21, 2008||Tripp's 28 not enough as Mountain Lions fall to Chadron State||CHADRON, Neb. -- Tonya Tripp had 28 points and 12 rebounds and Janean Jubic had eight assists but the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs nonetheless fell 86-81 to the Chadron State Eagles Thursday evening at Armstrong Gym.|