UCCS tops Bellarmine to win Disney tourney

By Doug Fitzgerald published November 4, 2007

The Mountain Lions overcame a 20-point deficit Sunday evening to defeat the Bellarmine Knights 73-67 and win the Group Endurance championship of the 2007 Disney's Division II Tip-Off East Coast Classic.

With the Mountain Lions trailing 28-8 midway through the first half, coach Jessika Caldwell called timeout.

"Somebody once told me how you eat an elephant," Caldwell told her team. "You eat it one bite at a time."

That's exactly what they did.

The Mountain Lions finished 3-0 in the tournament, the best season start in program history. UCCS has twice opened a season 2-0 and has begun 2-1 five times. Tonya Tripp was named the tournament most outstanding player, while Nancy Hoist joined Tripp on the all-tournament team. Janean Jubic had 22 assists in the three games, a new tournament record.

"There was some exceptional competition here," said Caldwell. "We learned a lot about ourselves; what our strengths are and what we need to work on."

Hoist led the Mountain Lions Sunday with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Tripp added 15 points and eight rebounds. Jazzmin Awa-Williams and Emily Jenkins each had eight points and nine boards as UCCS outrebounded the Knights 45-27.

"They put a lot of attention on Tonya, which left Nancy alone at the top for the shot or the drive," said Caldwell. "She took advantage of the opportunity."

For all intents and purposes, the game should have been decided before anybody broke a sweat. The Mountain Lions committed 10 turnovers in the first nine minutes. Meanwhile, the Knights made 12 of their first 16 field goal attempts. Add those two factors together and it equaled a 28-8 Bellarmine lead halfway through the first period.

UCCS, though, worked its way back into the game. Tripp and Hoist combined for 14 points before Jubic drilled a 3-pointer and Awa-Williams made a layup as the Mountain Lions forged a 21-5 run to cut the lead to 33-29 with 3:41 remaining in the half. Bellarmine went into the intermission with a 39-33 edge.

Bellarmine extended the lead to eight twice in the second half, the final time at 47-39 with 16:05 remaining. Awa-Williams had a layup and three rebounds over the next 1:30 to spark a 6-0 run to cut the lead to two.

The Knights managed to stave off that rally only to face another. The Knights had built the lead back to five with eight minutes remaining when Mallory Lowe hit two shots sandwiched around a Hoist free throw to tie the game for the first time at the 6:37 mark.

"It shows how much we've grown since last season," said Hoist. "If we had played this game last season, I think we might have accepted the loss."

And they weren't finished. After two Bellarmine free throws, Tripp and Hoist hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Jenkins added a layup to give UCCS a 67-61 lead with 3:14 left. Bellarmine got to within two, but a Hoist jumper and four Jubic free throws salted it away.

And it's not as if the Mountain Lions played in the Cupcake Division at Disney. Bellarmine was 19-11 a year ago, earning a spot in the NCAA Division II Tournament, and returned all five starters. Winona State was 15-12, placing fifth in the tough Northern Sun Conference, and returned four starters. Limestone went 10-18, returned four starters and added a pair of highly touted transfers.

"This gives us so much confidence going into this season," said Hoist. "It shows us that we can react well in different situations."

True. UCCS took big leads in each of its first two games in the tournament and had to withstand late rallies. Sunday, it was the Mountain Lions successfully doing the rallying.

And they did it one bite at a time.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Emily JenkinsEmily Jenkins33FSr.
Emily JenkinsEmily Jenkins33FJr.
Emily JenkinsEmily Jenkins22FSo.
Emily JenkinsEmily Jenkins22FSo.
Nancy HoistNancy Hoist40F
Nancy HoistNancy Hoist40F
Nancy HoistNancy Hoist40F
Tonya TrippTonya Tripp43CSr.
Tonya TrippTonya Tripp43C
Jazzmin Awa-WilliamsJazzmin Awa-Williams30F
Jazzmin Awa-WilliamsJazzmin Awa-Williams30F
Janean JubicJanean Jubic21GSr.
Janean JubicJanean Jubic21GJr.
Janean JubicJanean Jubic12GSo.
Janean JubicJanean Jubic12GFr.
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