Western New Mexico wins battle of evenly-matched teams

By Doug Fitzgerald published January 5, 2008


COLORADO SPRINGS -- Despite Kyle Perkins' 12 points and 16 rebounds, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was beaten 83-73 by the Western New Mexico Mustangs Saturday evening at the Lions' Den.

Perkins' rebound total doubled his previous career high of eight.

"The ball seemed to fall in the right place; right into my hands," said Perkins.

Five Mustangs scored in double figures, led by Trey Clarkson and Steve Berrelleza, who each had 14.

Although his stats, 12 points, five rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots were short of dominant, Western New Mexico's Kris Taylor was the one player with whom UCCS particularly struggled. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound center set big picks and commanded the double-team which, in turn, left others open shots. Defensively, he forced the Mountain Lions to change several shots in the paint.

Perkins said that a big problem for the Mountain Lions was in their personnel recognition, which means identifying what are the strengths and weaknesses of each opposing player.

"We didn't play their shooters and their drivers the way we were supposed to," said Perkins. "The guys that we knew were going to drive all of the time, we closed out on and they blew right past us."

Frank McCollum led UCCS (6-7, 2-3 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) with 17 points. Nic Fuller added 14, while Tomaul Hawkins had 13.

On paper, the two teams were evenly matched. Each came into the game with identical overall and RMAC records. Each boasted a balanced offense, with five players averaging more than nine points per game. Even the teams' shooting percentages and scoring margins were comparable.

And in this case, the paper didn't lie. While UCCS held the lead for a meager 3 minutes, 42 seconds, Western New Mexico's advantage was never very great. The Mustangs hovered in the two-to-six point range for most of the night, at least until the final minutes when UCCS began pressing and fouling in hopes of closing the gap.

The biggest difference between the squads was experience. The Mustangs returned nine players from last season's team and that showed in consistent and heady play.

"They had a lot of experience," said Perkins. "They played personnel right."

Western New Mexico (7-6, 3-2 RMAC) opened up a 25-16 lead at the 8:33 mark, but UCCS came back with a 12-2 run to take it first lead of the game. The advantage would be short-lived, as the Mustangs got a layup by Clarkson just six seconds later. They went into halftime with a 40-35 lead.

Western New Mexico up 59-51 with 13:20 remaining when UCCS went on a 10-0 run, taking a two-point lead after McCollum's 3-pointer at the 10:12 mark. That advantage would last 3:36 before the Mustangs regained the lead for good.

"One thing we can learn from this game -- one thing we can do better -- is when we go on a run, we need to continue that instead of getting up by three and going ok,'" said Perkins. "We need to close the door."

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Frank McCollumFrank McCollum42G
Frank McCollumFrank McCollum42GSr.
Tomaul HawkinsTomaul Hawkins24GJr.
Kyle PerkinsKyle Perkins21FSo.
Kyle PerkinsKyle Perkins21FFr.
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