Mountain Lions stage epic comeback but run out of gas and players

By Doug Fitzgerald published January 17, 2009

COLORADO SPRINGS â€" An incredible 20-3 run over the final 4:11 allowed the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs come all the way back from a 17-point deficit, but the Mountain Lions finally succumbed in overtime, 110-105 to the Western State Mountaineers Saturday evening at the Lionsâ€TM Den.

Down 86-69 with 4:11 remaining in the game, the Mountain Lions got nine points by Chris Fernandez, three by Jordan McClung, two by Ben Feilmeier and one by Nick Weaver to cut the deficit all the way to 86-84 with 35 seconds remaining

Two Cameron Burney free throws were answered by a Feilmeier layup. Burney made one of two free throws with 16 seconds left. As the clock ticked down, Weaver took a pick into the left corner and nailed a pull-up 3-pointer with four hands in his face to tie the game.

“Itâ€TMs a funny game; you never know when something like that is going to happen,” said UCCS coach Russ Caton. “We showed a lot of heart coming back.

“We didnâ€TMt tuck our tails and give in when we were down, which I thought we could have easily done that late in the game. Even though we came out on the short end, I think we still have some pretty good confidence coming out of this game. We canâ€TMt complain too much.”

But the Mountain Lions were forced to play the overtime without Feilmeier, Fernandez and Steven Clements, all of whom had fouled out in regulation. In addition, UCCS, as the RMAC East Divisionâ€TMs “lone wolf,” was playing its second game in as many nights while Western State was playing its only game of the week.

“That second night as a lone wolf is no joke,” said Caton. “We ran out of gas and we ran out of players.”

The game was tied at 95 with 2:41 remaining when a Jeremy Brooks 3-pointer and a conventional 3-point play by Brandon Gentry were sandwiched around a UCCS free throw to give Western State a five-point lead. The Mountain Lions closed to within three on three occasions afterward, but the Mountaineers made the free throws they need to make in order to hold onto the win.

Weaver and Feilmeier each had career high scoring nights, Weaver with 35 and Feilmeier with 18, Jordan McClung added 14 and Fernandez 13. Frank McCollum and Fernandez shared the game high with eight rebounds.

“It was nice to see some guys step up,” said Caton. “We played with a lot of heart and a lot of confidence.”

Allen McFarland led Western State with 25 points. Brooks (22), Burney (19), Justin Avalos (14) and Gentry (13) all reached double figures for the Mountaineers.

Western State improved to 6-1 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, 9-6 overall. UCCS dropped to 4-11, 4-3 RMAC.

The Mountain Lions had a promising opening, scoring the gameâ€TMs first 10 points and leading 14-3 just over four minutes in. Western State answered quickly, though, as Justin Avalos scored five straight to spark a 12-2 run.

The Mountaineers took their first lead, 25-24, with 8:36 remaining in the first half and held it all the way to Weaverâ€TMs game-tying shot. They went into the intermission leading 46-38.

UCCS scored the second halfâ€TMs first seven points to cut the deficit to one, but 3-pointers by McFarland and Cameron Burney boosted it back to seven. The gap was six when Western State went on a 15-4 run that broke the game open.

Saturdayâ€TMs comeback was another step in the maturation of a UCCS team that is beginning to round into form after opening the season with seven straight losses.

“We took our knocks early and that made us, I think, stronger in the long run,” said Caton. “Itâ€TMs taken us a long time. Itâ€TMs taken me a while to figure out the right pieces to the puzzle. I think weâ€TMre definitely getting there and putting those things together.

“When weâ€TMre rolling, weâ€TMre a pretty good basketball team.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Steven ClementsSteven Clements54C/FJr.
Steven ClementsSteven Clements54C/FSr.
Chris FernandezChris Fernandez30FFr.
Chris FernandezChris Fernandez30FSo.
Chris FernandezChris Fernandez24F
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