Mountain Lions get fourth straight win, lay claim to second place in RMAC East

By Doug Fitzgerald published February 7, 2009

COLORADO SPRINGS â€" On a night when free throws were anything but free, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs sank four in the final 30 seconds to defeat the Colorado Christian Cougars 63-60 Saturday evening at the Lionsâ€TM Den.

After having made just seven of their 16 free throws in the game to that point, Frank McCollum hit two with 30 seconds remaining that turned a two-point lead to four and Ben Feilmeier added two more with nine seconds left that increased a one-point advantage to three.

Colorado Christianâ€TMs Brendan Puckett missed a 3-point attempts with four seconds left that would have tied the game. UCCSâ€TM Jordan McClung grabbed the rebound and UCCS claimed its fourth straight victory.

Over those four games, the Mountain Lions have had four different players lead the team in scoring. On Friday, It was Feilmeier with 14 points, followed by McClung with 13 and McCollum with 12. McCollum also had 11 rebounds.

“Everybody steps up when they need to. Itâ€TMs a heck of a lot of fun to watch,” said UCCS coach Russ Caton. “The close endings are going to kill me, but this is great college basketball â€" great team basketball. “

Justin Neuhaus had 15 points, 11 rebounds, four blocked shots and three assists for Colorado Christian (12-9, 7-6 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference). Jordan Long added 15 points and three assists for the Cougars.

UCCS took sole possession of second place in the RMAC East Division by improving to 8-5 in conference play and 8-13 overall.

“After a rough start to the season, to win four straight, sitting in second place it the East Division, it doesnâ€TMt feel like anybody can beat us right now,” said Feilmeier. “These four games have been total team basketball; team defense, team offense. “

Colorado Christian, which came into Saturdayâ€TMs game leading the RMAC in 3-pointers made (193) and 3-point percentage (38.8), was held to a miserable 1-for-17 in the first half as UCCS forged a 34-21 lead.

“We worked on that a couple of days this week and during shootaround this morning,” said Feilmeier. “We played team D, communicated a lot on the shooters and just got out in their face and it worked. They couldnâ€TMt hit anything in the first half.”

But the Cougars made eight of their first 15 attempts in the second half, the last one by Long tied the game for the first and only time at 49 with 9:53 remaining.

“Every team makes a run and they made their run,” said Feilmeier. “We withstood it; they never took the lead.”

The Mountain Lions, as theyâ€TMve done repeatedly during the winning streak, answered the challenge with layups by McClung and Feilmeier. After a CCU free throw, Chris Fernandez knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to give UCCS a 59-50 lead with 3:58 remaining.

Colorado Christian made one more run at it as a 3-point play by Neuhaus capped a 7-0 rally. McCollumâ€TMs and Feilmeierâ€TMs free throws, though, kept the Cougars from completing the comeback.

On a night when they shot just 38.9 percent from the field, 55 percent from the foul line and came up on the wrong end of an 18-10 turnover count, the Mountain Lions needed a superior defensive effort to win. They got exactly that, holding Colorado Christian to 30.4 percent shooting overall, including 23.1 percent on 3-pointers. Combine those numbers with a 49-39 rebounding advantage and UCCS stepped up to hold the Cougars 11 points under their 71.3 season scoring average.

“Everyone on our team can score the ball. Thatâ€TMs the easy part,” said Feilmeier. “Itâ€TMs been the team defense thatâ€TMs been getting it done for us.”

Caton was lavish in his praise for the school-record crowd of 527 that filled the 418 seats, overflowed into the lobby and spilled over into the widows above the Lionsâ€TM Den.

“I was worried, coming in the second night this year itâ€TMs been a little bit more tiring and a little bit tougher on us,” said Caton. “I saw all of those fans there and I thought ‘thereâ€TMs no way in the world weâ€TMre going to be able to come out flat.â€TM We fed off of the energy, especially early in the game.

“It was a great boost. People talk about homecourt advantage and thereâ€TMs no better example of homecourt advantage than what we had here tonight.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Frank McCollumFrank McCollum42G
Frank McCollumFrank McCollum42GSr.
Jordan McClungJordan McClung14GFr.
Jordan McClungJordan McClung14GSo.
Jordan McClungJordan McClung14GJr.
Jordan McClungJordan McClung14GFr.
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