UCCS tops Bellarmine to win Disney tourney
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
|Additional News Stories|
|June 11, 2008||Caldwell sees a little of herself in young UCCS campers||There may be a few future Jessika Caldwells running around at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Recreation Center this week.Caldwell, the coach of the UCCS womenâ€™s basketball team, is currently holding the first of her annual summer camps. Thirty campers, ranging in age from 6- to 10-years old, are honing their skills under the tutelage of Caldwell and seven other coaches, some of whom are current Mountain Lions basketball players. The camp runs from June 9-12 and goes from 9 a.m. to noon each day.|
|May 28, 2008||Mountain Lions add four more to 2008-09 women's basketball squad||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs womenâ€™s basketball coach Jessika Caldwell announced Wednesday that she had signed four players to National Letters of Intent.|
|February 27, 2008||Tripp named second-team all-RMAC.||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs center Tonya Tripp was named second-team all-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference team for the East division, the conference announced Wednesday.|
|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.|