Big second half turns Mesa State win into a rout

By Doug Fitzgerald published January 11, 2008

GRAND JUNCTION -- The Mesa State Mavericks shot 58.3 percent and forced 15 turnovers in the second half Friday evening, scoring 55 points in a 92-66 victory over the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Jake Swartzendruber scored all 12 of his points and the Mavericks committed just three turnovers in the half to run away with the game despite the Mountain Lions shooting 14-of-24 in the period.

The Mountain Lions were playing shorthanded since Frank McCollum didn't make the trip in order to take a test. To fill the void, Leo Thomas made his first start since Jan. 5, 2006. The 5-foot-8 senior came through with 12 points and is first career blocked shot.

Thomas discovered on Friday morning that he would be starting.

"I was surprised, excited, a lot of emotions were going through my mind," said Thomas. "I wanted to provide the team with what Frank does and bring a lot of effort."

The Mavericks made their first six field goal attempts, two of which were 3-pointers, of the second half to turn a six-point halftime lead into an 11-point edge. After a Nic Fuller 3-pointer cut the lead to 51-43, Mesa State scored the next five points to open a commanding 14-point lead. UCCS never got closer than 12 after that.

"Transition was a problem," said Thomas. "We didn't get back good enough.

"We have some minor tweaks to do on defense to make it a little bit stronger. We had a problem communicating on the floor. It helps a lot if we communicate on defense."

Fuller led UCCS (6-8, 2-4 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Tomaul Hawkins added 16 points, while Kyle Perkins had 13 points and seven rebounds.

While the Mountain Lions shot a respectable 47.5 percent from the field, they struggled from long range.

"We shot pretty poorly from the 3-point line," said Thomas of UCCS' 3-of-17 marksmanship.

UCCS is now 1-15 all-time at Brownson Arena. The only win came on Feb. 9, 2001.

Mesa State went on a 9-3 run in the closing minutes of the first half to turn a slim 28-25 lead into a nine-point advantage. Fuller, though, hit a 3-pointer with two seconds remaining to cut the lead to 37-31 at the intermission.

The trip to Grand Junction on Thursday met an unexpected delay when the team's bus broke down in Vail. After the driver limped the bus to a side street near a service station, he and a mechanic tried to repair it for nearly 90 minutes. When it was determined that a needed part was unavailable locally, a replacement bus was sent from Denver. Two hours later, the Mountain Lions were back on the road.

They hoped the delay would provide some positive karma. On Oct. 12, the UCCS volleyball team's bus also broke own on its way to Grand Junction. After hitching a ride on another bus, the Mountain Lions went on to beat Mesa State, their first win ever at Brownson Arena.

The UCCS basketball teams, though, enjoyed no such good fortune.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Leo ThomasLeo Thomas12GJr.
Leo ThomasLeo Thomas12GJr.
Leo ThomasLeo Thomas12GSr.
Frank McCollumFrank McCollum42G
Frank McCollumFrank McCollum42GSr.
Tomaul HawkinsTomaul Hawkins24GJr.
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