Mountain Lions snooze their way to loss

By Doug Fitzgerald published November 28, 2009

COLORADO SPRINGS â€" Who knew that Mountain Lions hibernate?

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' offense went into a long slumber Saturday as the Missouri Western State Griffons held on for a 52-43 win at the Lions' Den in the final game of the 2009 Hyatt Place Thanksgiving Classic.

Mountain Lion fans had little for which to be thankful, though. UCCS shot 28.6 percent from the field, including 4-for-20 from 3-point range, and 53.8 percent from the foul line. Compounding the misery were 23 turnovers. Add UCCS coach Stephen Kirkham to the dissatisfied.

"They scored 52 points in our gym - 52 points," said Kirkham. "I've been coaching a long time and that's probably the first time I've lost to a team that scored 52 points.

"It's a guessing game right now as to who's going to show up to play. You can't coach a team when you don't know who's going to show up and play."

For high-altitude teams, keeping it close until the final 10 minutes is usually a formula for winning, as the non-acclimated visitor often loses its shooting touch as the legs go. The Mountain Lions accomplished the first, which led to the second. What they failed to do is capitalize in any way whatsoever.

The Mountain Lions defense was more than good enough to close the gap, but the offense was inept. Well, maybe not inept. That would be an insult to those who are inept.

UCCS cut the deficit to 38-33 on Lauren Wolfinger's 3-pointer with 13:54 remaining. The next Mountain Lion hoop came 4:25 later on Mallory Lowe's layup. It took another 5:20 before UCCS would score again on a Caley Fisher 3-pointer.

The math is simple. Between the 13:53 and the 3:51 marks, a period of 10 minutes, two seconds, UCCS score just one lonely hoop, going 1-11 from the field with five turnovers. And that at a time when there was a very real chance to take advantage of a tired Griffons team that managed a meager eight points over the same period.

"They were tired and trying to milk the clock," said Kirkham. "My gosh, we had probably 15 possessions that they didn't score."

Ashley Miller led UCCS (3-3) with 11 points, while Lauren Holm added 10. Mallory Lowe grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.

Jessica Koch led Missouri Western State (1-3) with 15 points and five assists. Rachel Luteyn added 11 points and a team-best nine rebounds.

UCCS started slow, with two missed shots and three turnovers in its first four possessions, that allowed MWSU to open with an eight-point run. UCCS cut the gap to three before a 13-2 run gave the Griffons a 26-12 lead. UCCS cut it to 30-21 at the intermission.

"We don't know how to play hard for 40 minutes; we don't know how to get ready to play from the beginning," said Kirkham. "We've got to figure out a way to get them to understand that."

Defensively, the Mountain Lions forced 24 turnovers and held the Griffons to 35.7 percent shooting, including just 2-for-14 from 3-point range.

"Coach (Lynn) Plett from Missouri Western said we set basketball back 100 years in that game," said Kirkham. It was the only thing he could find to smile about.

"We've got to figure out some way to get these kids to get motivated," he said. "I've told them several times that I'm not going to kick lockers and throw stuff to motivate them because that lasts for about three minutes and then you've got to go out and play anyway."

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Mallory LoweMallory Lowe34C/F
Mallory LoweMallory Lowe34C/F
Mallory LoweMallory Lowe34C/F
Caley FisherCaley Fisher5F
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