UCCS can't quite reach the summit in loss to Mines

By Doug Fitzgerald published February 2, 2008

COLORADO SPRINGS -- In the famous child's tale, the little engine made it all the way over the hill rather than stalling inches short of the summit.

Apparently, college students are too busy to get familiar with children's stories.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs slugged its way back from a 17-point deficit but couldn't quite crest the peak, eventually losing 79-72 to the Colorado Mines Orediggers Saturday evening at the Lions' Den.

The Orediggers (10-13, 5-8 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) made five of their first six 3-pointers, including two by Kyle Pape that appeared to have been launched from Huerfano County, to open up a 36-19 lead with 6:40 remaining in the first half.

"He's a good player and a good shooter," said UCCS center Steven Clements of Pape. "I thought we played good defense; he just hit hard shots."

Nic Fuller had six points and Kyle Perkins five during a 15-7 run to close the half as the Mountain Lions (7-14, 3-10 RMAC) whittled away at the deficit.

A big part of that run and those that would come in the second half was the efforts of the Mountain Lions defense. UCCS weathered Mines' early hot shooting and continued to try to deny the perimeter.

"We were focused on their shooters more than their presence inside," said Clements, who had six points and five rebounds. "They have a lot of high-post game, so we wanted to lay off and see if their guards could hurt us."

It worked, as the Orediggers made just one of their final 14 3-point attempts.

A Fuller 3-pointer started a 7-0 Mountain Lion run to open the second half that cut the lead to 43-41, but Mines quickly answered as Pape scored five during a 7-0 run that returned the margin to its halftime status.

UCCS cut the lead to four on four different occasions but couldn't get closer until Abram Ziemer stepped in front of a Casey O'Hayre pass and went all the way for the layup to make it 70-68 with 2:34 left in the game.

"We started to trap a lot, get a lot of steals and put pressure on them," said Clements. "(With that) the runs started coming."

But they couldn't come quite far enough. Ben Mohr hit two free throws and Pape knocked down a pull-up 10-footer for Mines while the Mountain Lions missed two contested 3-pointers as the Orediggers surged ahead by six with just 33 seconds left.

Fuller led the Mountain Lions with 23 points and matched his career high with eight rebounds. Perkins added 19 points, while freshman Jordan McClung had four assists.

Pape led all scorers with 26 points, while Mohr added 10 points and 12 rebounds. Chad Friehauf, who was an All-American quarterback for the Orediggers and had a tryout with the Denver Broncos, showed he can still pass with the best of them by dishing out five assists to go along with his 10 points.

While the Mountain Lions have lost seven of their past eight games, they've been particularly competitive since coach Russ Caton has committed more minutes to his younger players. The move was made not just with an eye on the future, but also because Caton believes they give his team the best chance to win now as well.

Now if they can just give the team that little nudge it needs to get over the summit.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Steven ClementsSteven Clements54C/FJr.
Steven ClementsSteven Clements54C/FSr.
Abram ZiemerAbram Ziemer10GFr.
Kyle PerkinsKyle Perkins21FFr.
Kyle PerkinsKyle Perkins21FSo.
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