Mountain Lions get carried away with the spirit of giving in loss to Thunderwolves

By Doug Fitzgerald published January 3, 2009

PUEBLO - The Mountain Lions just shake the Christmas spirit Saturday evening.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was generous with the basketball, committing 24 turnovers in a 79-57 nonconference loss to the Colorado State-Pueblo Thunderwolves at Massari Arena.

After 13 first-half giveaways squandered a nine-point lead and allowed CSU-Pueblo to end the period in a 28-all tie, the Mountain Lions gave away six more in the first five minutes of the second half. This Scrooge-after-the-ghosts'visitation-like generosity put UCCS in a deep hole, as Rome Smith's field goal with 14:23 remaining gave CSU-Pueblo a 51-34 lead.

"We had a lot of guys making poor decisions with the ball," said UCCS coach Russ Caton.

And since the holidays are also the time for giving rather than receiving, the Mountain Lions also avoided the charity stripe as if were last year's fruitcake. In fact, UCCS didn't shoot its first free throw until the 15:12 mark of the second half. By that time, the Thunderwolves had already shot 14.

Smith led all scorers with 23 points, while Marc Williams added 14 to help the Thunderwolves improve to 5-6. CSU-Pueblo center Jake Trahern took advantage of the absence of UCCS post man Cole Smith by recording 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

Nick Weaver led UCCS (2-9) with 21 points but went just 5-for-16 from the field.

The Mountain Lions knew coming in that this game would be a clash of styles. UCCS, the second-highest scoring team in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference at 83.4 points per game, wanted to push the action. Colorado State-Pueblo, dead last in the 14-team conference in scoring, wanted a more deliberate pace. The Thunderwolves won this battle of styles â€" decisively.

Before Saturday, UCCS' lowest-scoring game had been 65 against Division I Air Force.

"They took us out of our stuff offensively," said Caton, who is now looking forward to next weekend's road trip to Fort Lewis and Adams State. "We've got a few days to get some things worked out and see what we can do in conference (play)."

With the win, CSU-Pueblo narrowed its deficit in the Steel & Silver Series to 18-8. UCCS needs five more points to win the rivalry series' and the Ent Federal Credit Union Trophy that goes with it - for the fourth straight year.

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