UCCS Men Say Goodbye to Lions' Den by Setting Records in Win Over CSU-Pueblo

By Doug Fitzgerald published December 18, 2010

COLORADO SPRINGS - Cole Smith grabbed 14 of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' 51 rebounds as the Mountain Lions said goodbye to the Lions' Den with a 96-88 win over the Colorado State-Pueblo Thunderwolves Friday evening.

The rebound total was tied for the four highest in UCCS history. That, the opponent and the win made it a particularly fitting end for UCCS' diminutive venue, which will be replaced by the new, 1,200+-seat UCCS Events Center for the Mountain Lions' next home game on Jan. 8 against Fort Lewis.

"All I wanted was a win for Christmas," said UCCS coach Russ Caton. "Santa's already come to my house."

Smith also added 24 points Friday for the Mountain Lions, who improved to 2-7. Both the scoring and rebounding totals were career highs for the senior from Burlington, Colo., who made 10 of his 14 field goal attempts and all four tries from the foul line.

"It's all the team," said Smith of his career night. "We moved really well as a team tonight, set a lot of good screens and that created a lot of mismatches in the post. I couldn't have done any of it if they hadn't passed me the ball like they did."

Brent Jones tied a UCCS record with five blocked shots, four of which came in the second half as UCCS held CSU-Pueblo to 38.7 percent shooting in the period. Jones also had seven rebounds, three assists and was one of five Mountain Lions in double figure scoring with 12 points.

Also reaching double digits aside from Smith and Jones were Jordan McClung (15), Luke Hristou (14) and Scott Sublousky (10).

Marc Williams led CSU-Pueblo (6-2) with 22 points, while Chris Busch added 21. Daniel Pierce had 14 points and a team-best eight rebounds, while Roman Van Allen had a game-high seven assists.

The win increased UCCS' lead in the Steel & Silver Series to 20-6, meaning the Mountain Lions need just three more points to clinch the series for the 2009-10 season. While the lead is large, there is no feeling at UCCS that anything has been settled. Colorado State-Pueblo's women's track team is vastly improved and could grab eight points (four for indoor track and four for outdoor track). Should that happen, the series would come down to the two remaining points for men's golf, the four points available for softball and the all-important five points for academics.

Busch hit back-to-back layups to give the Thunderwolves their biggest lead at 40-26 with 4:01 remaining in the first half, prompting UCCS coach Russ Caton to call a timeout. The Mountain Lions huddle during that timeout was particularly animated.

"We came out a little flat," said Smith. "Then there was a spark from the timeout and we were able to go on a run.

"It was a challenge, basically. We were being soft and playing weak and coach Caton called us out. It put a chip on our shoulder and we were a lot more aggressive coming out."

The challenge had its desired result. Hristou hit a pull-up jumper, Jones nailed a baseline fadeaway and Smith converted a three-point play to cut the gap to seven. A free throw and a 3-pointer by CSU-Pueblo made it 44-33, but UCCS responded with a 13-2 run down the stretch to tie the game at 46 going into the intermission.

Sublousky hit two 3-pointers and a pair of free throws to spark a 12-3 run that turned a one-point game into a 79-69 lead with 6:52 remaining. CSU-Pueblo managed to shave the gap down to five with 2:16 left, but UCCS made enough free throws down the stretch to keep the Thunderwolves at bay.

"That's the first time we played a good string of minutes together as a team; we had just shown streaks of that before," said Smith. "We can build upon that now. When you put good minutes together, you remember how that feels."

It feels like a great way to say goodbye to an old friend and hello to a new one.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Cole SmithCole Smith32FJr.
Cole SmithCole Smith32F
Scott SublouskyScott Sublousky15GFr.
Scott SublouskyScott Sublousky15GSr.
Luke HristouLuke Hristou35F
Luke HristouLuke Hristou35F
Luke HristouLuke Hristou35FSo.
Brent JonesBrent Jones10F
Brent JonesBrent Jones10FSr.
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