Lopsided loss to Wyoming nonetheless presents positives
LARAMIE, Wyo. â€" University of Colorado at Colorado Springs womenâ€TMs basketball coach Jessika Caldwell has two weeks to prepare her Mountain Lions for their season opener against West Texas A&M on Nov. 21. After Tuesdayâ€TMs 93-48 beating at the hands of the Division I Wyoming Cowgirls â€" the Mountain Lionsâ€TM lone exhibition game of the season â€" Caldwell now has no shortage of areas to address.
â€œWe can take some positive things from this experience,â€ said Caldwell. â€œWe had some great looks at the basket tonight, and as we get experience playing together, weâ€TMll start to knock some of those down.â€
Caldwell said before the game that her goals were to get her team full-speed repetitions of their basic sets and get as many players as possible some meaningful playing time. She did just that. Eleven Mountain Lions played double-figure minutes and nobody played more than 24.
â€œWe got a lot of kids some playing time and got to see what combinations work well on the floor,â€ said Caldwell. â€œIn the second half, we settled down and saw more of the openings created by our offense.â€
Mallory Lowe led UCCS with 12 points, while Nancy Hoist added nine points and a team-best eight rebounds.
For the Mountain Lions, whose home games â€" at least for one more season â€" are played in the 418-seat Lionsâ€TM Den, the atmosphere at Wyomingâ€TMs 15,000-seat Auditorium-Arena was intimidating.
â€œThe arena is huge and with all the fans, itâ€TMs loud,â€ said freshman Alex Sherk, who had seven points. â€œYou have pre-game jitters. We knew that they went to the Sweet 16 last year and that it was going to be tough. Playing against Wyoming is going to make us that much better when we play against RMAC teams. Nobody in the RMAC is this big or this athletic.â€
Emma Langford led Wyoming with 25 points.
Itâ€TMs hard to imagine two teams with more wildly different pedigrees coming into the game. Wyoming was coming off a 24-7 season and the aforementioned trip to the NCAA Division I Sweet 16. The roster boasted nine players 6-foot-1 or taller and four others at 5-foot-11. Heck, even the cheerleaders were big.
Division II UCCS, meanwhile, posted an 11-19 record a season ago with just three players at or above 6-foot.
The one thing the teams had in common were new faces. Wyoming graduated four starters and has five freshmen on the roster. UCCS returns just two starters and has seven newcomers, including six freshmen.
But the Mountain Lionsâ€TM talented freshman class, many from very small high schools, had never seen basketball at the size or speed presented by Wyoming. The five freshmen that saw action combined to shoot 4-for-33, and that includes Sherkâ€TMs 3-for-7.
â€œEvery kid except one was 6-foot or better,â€ said Caldwell. â€œThatâ€TMs something we never get to practice against.â€
It was hardly shocking that the game proved to be a mismatch from the opening tip. The Cowgirls made their first six field goal attempts, including two 3-pointers, and didnâ€TMt miss until the 16:29 mark. That accuracy helped them sprint to a 15-3 lead. By halftime, the margin had swelled to 52-24.
Despite the lopsided score, Caldwell was happy with her teamâ€TMs effort.
â€œIf we can penetrate and get the same kind of open looks against RMAC teams that we got tonight, we should do well,â€ she said. â€œIâ€TMm proud of the girls. They played hard and did what we told them to do.â€
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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