UCCS takes big Steel & Silver Series lead with win over T-wolves

By Doug Fitzgerald published December 19, 2008

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs took a commanding lead in the Steel & Silver Series on Friday night and, in no small part, has Colorado State-Pueblo coach Kip Drown to thank.

While coaches in other sports from both schools have made certain they play each other twice a season (one conference game and one nonconference), Drown has repeatedly and steadfastly refused to schedule a second game against the Mountain Lions. His rationale, according to sources, has been that another game against UCCS does nothing to enhance his teamâ€TMs regional prestige.

As a result, Friday eveningâ€TMs 77-67 UCCS victory counted four points toward winning the Ent Federal credit Union Trophy for the fourth straight year instead on the two earned later in the evening by the Mountain Lion men. The two wins give UCCS a daunting 18-6 lead in the rivalry series.

There are 45 total points available over the course of the year, meaning that 23 are needed to win the series. Two points each remain available in menâ€TMs basketball and menâ€TMs golf, while four points each remain for womenâ€TMs indoor track, outdoor track and softball. Five points are awarded to the athletic department that earns the highest cumulative grade point average.

“It was a huge win; this is the first time since Iâ€TMve been here that weâ€TMve beaten them,” said senior center Nancy Hoist, who came up on the losing side during her first two seasons at UCCS after transferring from Division I Eastern Kentucky. The CSU-Pueblo domination had been established long before she arrived, however, with the Thunderwolves winning 10 of the previous 11 meetings dating back to 2002.

“Itâ€TMs a great win for (the Steel & Silver Series) too,” added Hoist. “Weâ€TMve got to bring (the trophy) back home again. Itâ€TMs nice to win it year after year.”

They took a big step towards just that on Friday.

Freshman Payden Ackerman had a career-high 19 points while Hoist grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds. Jazzmin Awa-Williams added 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting, with five assists and nine rebounds.

Michelle Ambuul led CSU-Pueblo (8-2, 2-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) with 18 points. Rachel Espinoza added 15 points, four assists and four steals.

UCCS (4-5, 2-0 RMAC) shot 45.5 percent from the field, the fourth straight game the Mountain Lions have been over 40 percent. UCCS, which plays New Mexico Highlands Saturday at the Lionsâ€TM Den, has now won four of its past five games.

The Mountain Lions owned a 46-32 advantage on the boards and held CSU-Pueblo to 35.5 percent shooting.

“Rebounding and defense were our main focuses; we knew those were the keys to winning this game,” said Hoist. “Every day in practice we work on crashing for offensive rebounds and boxing out. We really focused on it this week and it was nice to see everybody take it to the next level.”

UCCS coach Jessika Caldwell explained further.

“Our gameplan was to change our defenses enough to throw them off their offensive rhythm,” she said. “We knew they were an offensively potent team and can score from both the inside and the outside. Our goals were to make sure we had a hand in the shooterâ€TMs face and give them only one shot.”

Ackerman, who was 6-of-12 from 3-point range, was a part of the UCCS bench that produced 47 points, 27 more than the Thunderwolves. Her marksmanship was instrumental in thwarting CSU-Puebloâ€TMs effective 2-3 zone.

“Payden is a shooter, and when teams play zone (a shooterâ€TMs) eyes should light up,” said Caldwell. “Hers sure did.

“She did exactly what she was supposed to do plus she went out and got (a career high) eight rebounds. You canâ€TMt ask more than that from a kid.”

CSU-Pueblo led by seven at the halfway point of the first half, but UCCS, behind four points by Awa-Williams, went on an 11-0 run to take a 26-22 lead. The advantage grew to 33-28 at the intermission.

The Thunderwolves opened the second half 9-3 behind five points by Espinoza to take a one-point lead. The game was tied at 42 when two Ackerman 3-pointers sparked a 17-4 UCCS run.

CSU-Pueblo used a 9-2 spurt, five of which were scored by Mary Rehfeld, to cut the deficit to 69-65 with 2:08 remaining, but UCCS made eight consecutive free throws to keep the Thunderwolves from closing any further.

“Itâ€TMs really good to play such a close game with such good competition and to pull it out at the end,” said Hoist.

And do nothing to enhance the Thunderwolvesâ€TM regional prestige, either.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Nancy HoistNancy Hoist40F
Nancy HoistNancy Hoist40F
Nancy HoistNancy Hoist40F
Jazzmin Awa-WilliamsJazzmin Awa-Williams30F
Jazzmin Awa-WilliamsJazzmin Awa-Williams30F
Payden AckermanPayden Ackerman34G
Payden AckermanPayden Ackerman34G
Payden AckermanPayden Ackerman34G
Payden AckermanPayden Ackerman34G
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