Thornton leads UCCS to first RMAC win of season
COLORADO SPRINGS -- Candace Thornton recorded her first career double-double to lead the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a 63-57 victory over the New Mexico Highlands Cowgirls Friday evening at the Lions' Den.
Thornton had 15 points and 12 rebounds to help the Mountain Lions earn their first Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference win of the season. UCCS is now 6-8 overall and 1-3 in conference play.
Although winless, New Mexico Highlands (0-9, 0-4 RMAC) gave the Mountain Lions all they could handle. Jessica Armijo made five of her nine 3-point attempts en route to a game-high 19 points. Delischa Utsey added 14 points and Pasha Cornish had 12.
"Coach prepared us really well for them," said Thornton. "We just had some preconceptions of them from last year. They were definitely more disciplined this year."
Thornton's 3-pointer to open the second half gave UCCS a 34-28 lead, but the Cowgirls answered with a 17-6 run. Despite the slip, Thornton said there was no panic on the UCCS bench.
"We've come back from as much as (20) this year," said Thornton. "There's not really any point where we get into the mindset that we can't come back."
The lead was still five with 11:36 remaining when another Thornton 3-pointer and a layup by Tonya Tripp tied the game at 48.
New Mexico Highlands held a precarious 55-54 lead with 6:22 left, but UCCS scored the next nine points to go up 63-55 at the two-minute mark.
"Coach told us that we had to be disciplined; that we had to play a full 30 seconds on defense," said Thornton. "We had to be patient on offense and get the best shot that we could."
The advice was sound. The UCCS defense forced 10 consecutive missed field goal attempts during the run.
Tripp and Janean Jubic added nine points each for UCCS, while Tripp and Emily Jenkins each had nine rebounds.
Freshman Kirstin Buttars made her second career start, recording seven points and five rebounds. Nancy Hoist added eight points in her first game coming off the UCCS bench.
That Highlands would play so well came as no surprise to Thornton and the Mountain Lions.
"Coach told us we had to go into the game looking at them as if they were 8-0, not 0-8," said Thornton. "We've been there. We've been where you fight and fight and fight to get your first win and those are the teams that are dangerous."
UCCS will play another of those dangerous teams on Saturday when it hosts a Western New Mexico team that comes in winless in 10 games.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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