Mountain Lions Erase 21-Point Deficit to Claim Comeback Win Over Western State

By Doug Fitzgerald published November 24, 2009

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. â€" There's an old saying in the theatre that you should leave them wanting more.

After Tuesday's incredible comeback win over Western State, Mountain Lion fans definitely are wanting more.

Behind 18 points from freshman Lauren Wolfinger and Mallory Lowe's second career double-double, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs women's basketball team overcame a 21-point deficit to defeat the Mountaineers 56-52 at the Lions' Den.

“With about a minute and a half to go when we took the lead by two, I said ‘ladies, I donâ€TMt care what happens in this game, I couldnâ€TMt be prouder of a bunch of kids,â€TM” said UCCS coach Stephen Kirkham.

Wolfinger scored 14 of her points while Lowe had had nine of her 11 points and eight of her 10 rebounds in the second half as the Mountain Lions came all the way back from a deep hole. A chasm maybe. The pit of despair.

And that pit was dug behind some absolutely miserable shooting. The Mountain Lions shot a meager 5-for-25 percent in the first half, and that only because they made two of their final three attempts. The 20 percent accuracy was the worst posted by in a half by a UCCS team since Feb. 21, 2009 when the Mountain Lions hit 18.5 percent in the first half of a 77-57 loss to Colorado School of Mines.

“Iâ€TMm very upset with (UCCS softball) coach (Scott) Peterson,” Kirkham said with tongue firmly in cheek. “I asked him to put cellophane over the basket and he put it on the wrong end.”

As UCCS struggled to score, Western State built a 38-17 first-half lead. A Payden Ackerman 3-pointer cut the deficit to 18 at the intermission. But, in a way, UCCSâ€TM poor shooting was Western Stateâ€TMs downfall.

“They thought it was over and thatâ€TMs what coach said at halftime when we were coming out of the huddle,” said Wolfinger. “He said, ‘they think they have this one.â€TM

“He said we needed to keep going and we needed to do it one basket at a time and not all at once. He said our defense was great and we were hustling; just nothing was falling.”

Behind a dogged defensive effort, the Mountain Lions followed Kirkhamâ€TMs script by chipping away methodically. The UCCS offense was no juggernaught in the second half, making just 33 percent of its shots, but the defense limited the Mountaineers to 14.3 percent shooting (5-for-29) including 0-for-7 from 3-point range. Western State also hurt itself by making just four of its 14 free throws in the period while UCCS connected on 14-of-21.

After a Kristen Forbes jumper gave Western State a 40-20 lead, the Mountain Lions scored nine straight, six by Lowe. Western State scored consecutive hoops to extend it back to 15 only to see UCCS answer again with a six-point run, four by Lowe, to dip below double digits (44-35) with 11:25 remaining.

“You watch the NBA all the time; what do you want the score to be? You have to be under 10 with 10 minutes remaining,” said Kirkham. “We made it nine at 11 and their elbows got a little tighter and the moves werenâ€TMt as easy.”

The teams went over two minutes without scoring when Janean Jubic converted a pair of free throws for the Mountain Lions to make it 44-37 with 8:53 remaining. Wolfinger made a free throw, followed by a layup by Alyse Bessert and 3-pointers by Wolfinger and Jubic to tie it at 46 (Western's Forbes hit a field goal between the two 3-pointers) with 4:34 left.

The Mountaineers clawed out three points to go up 49-46, but Wolfinger had the answer with back-to-back 3-pointers to give UCCS its first lead of the game, 52-49, with 2:23 remaining.

Two Forbes free throws cut it to one with just over two minutes to go. After two fruitless possessions by each team, Wolfinger pump faked another 3-point attempt and then drove hard to the basket for a layup. A Western State free throw cut it to two, but Wolfinger made both of her free throws with 13 seconds left to seal the win.

Forbes led Western State (1-2) with 13 points, while Amber Murray added 13. Murray and Brooke Pendergraft, the Mountaineers' two leading scorers with a combined average of 34.5 [points per game, were limited to 15 Tuesday with just three of those coming in the second half.

“The kids did a great job of executing the defensive strategy that we had of taking (Pendergraft and Murray) out of the game and making somebody else beat us,” said Kirkham. “In the first half, they made some shots. In the second half when they got a little tight, they couldnâ€TMt make those same shots.”

UCCS will host the Hyatt Place Thanksgiving Classic on Friday and Saturday. Tip-off for both UCCS games will be 3 p.m.

The Mountain Lions improved to 3-1 on the season. Although both teams were members of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Tuesdayâ€TMs game was a nonconference affair.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Lauren WolfingerLauren Wolfinger13GSr.
Lauren WolfingerLauren Wolfinger03GFr.
Lauren WolfingerLauren Wolfinger13GSo.
Lauren WolfingerLauren Wolfinger13GJr.
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