UCCS headed to postseason play for only third time in school history

By Doug Fitzgerald published March 2, 2009

In just three seasons as the men's basketball coach at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Russ Caton has accomplished something that none of his predecessors managed - he qualified for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference playoffs twice.

The No. 8 seeded Mountain Lions are headed to the postseason for only the third time since the program's inception in 1987. They will face the No. 1 seeded Metro State Roadrunners on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. at the Auraria Events Center (900 Auraria Parkway) in Denver.

UCCS' first playoff trip came after a 13-6 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference record in 2000-01. On Feb. 27, 2001, the No. 5 seeded Mountain Lions were beaten by No. 4 seed Metro State at Auraria Fieldhouse. The next trip came in Caton's first season when UCCS was stopped 98-83 by Adams State on Feb. 28, 2007 in Alamosa.

Not only is Metro State ranked No. 15 nationally, the Roadrunners also have the psychological advantage of never having lost to UCCS. The teams have played 33 times since 1989, including twice previously this season, all of which have been won by Metro State.

UCCS enters the game with a 10-16 record overall and 10-9 in RMAC play. Metro State, which had won 16 straight games, has a 24-3 record overall and 18-1 in the RMAC. Tuesday's winner will advance to the RMAC Shootout, which will be held March 6-7 at the Colorado State Fairgrounds Events Center in Pueblo.

Because of their record, the Mountain Lions' only realistic shot at qualifying for the NCAA Tournament is to earn the RMAC's automatic qualifying spot by winning the conference tournament.

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