Metro State stays perfect vs. UCCS
COLORADO SPRINGS - Apparently, the 35th time is NOT a charm.
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs remained winless in 35 tries all-time against Metro State as the Roadrunners took home an 81-68 victory Saturday evening at the Gallogly Event Center.
Jordan McClung led the Mountain Lions, who slipped to 6-11 (4-5 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) with 16 points and five assists. Alex Snyder added 15 points, while Cole Smith had 13 points and a team-best nine rebounds.
It was the first time since Dec. 18 that McClung had reached double-digit scoring. The junior from Aurora made 6-of-9 field goals, including 4-of-7 3-pointers.
"It's good to see Jordan hit some shots again," said Caton. "He's coming off that ankle injury and playing a little more like the old Jordan."
Donte Nicholas had 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocked shots for Metro State (15-2, 8-1 RMAC). Brian Minor added 11 points, followed by Jonathan Morse and A.J. Flournoy, who each had 10. Glenn Miller had nine rebounds.
The Mountain Lions, playing their second game in as many nights, showed their fatigue against Metro State, which hadn't played since Tuesday. UCCS shot just 41.4 percent from the field and was outrebounded 43-31.
"We were dragging tonight; I'm not going to avoid that," said Caton. "We played some hard minutes the night before and the lone wolf is in effect. It absolutely affects the way you play."
Caton was referring to the RMAC's "lone wolf" scheduling format that has the team in each division that's not paired up with a travel partner (UCCS and Western New Mexico this year and last) regularly playing rested teams after having played the night before.
The Roadrunners built a 40-30 halftime lead on a series of short runs rather than a single, large one. The largest and most damaging of those came after a Chris Fernandez 3-pointer capped a five-point UCCS response that made it 33-27. Four free throws, a field goals by Morse and Shakir Johnson put Metro State up 40-27. Luke Hristou's 3-pointer with 15 seconds left cut UCCS' deficit to 10 at the break.
Caton was disappointed by his team's getting to the foul line just four times in the half. The Mountain Lions would drive hard but, instead of continuing into the contact and forcing the call, they would wildly alter their shot into something right out of a Harlem Globetrotters routine.
"A real disappointing thing tonight was guys being afraid to go strong (to the hoop) and finish," said Caton. "We're not going to do well against any conference teams if we don't finish easy buckets and make free throws."
The Mountain Lions never got closer than eight in the second half as Metro used the same, consistent, grind-it-out approach to build its advantage to as many as 20.
Caton said he saw more to like than to dislike in Saturday's performance. His team played hard throughout and handled Metro's famous trapping press defense.
"We kept our turnovers under control; 15 against Metro is a pretty good number," he said, while also adding that the areas where UCCS struggled were the kinds of things that can change very quickly.
Like all good coaches must, Caton's attention turned quickly after Saturday's game.
"We got to make sure we stay positive," he said. "These next four games are real crucial the way the conference is turning out."
All four contests will be on the road as UCCS will take on Chadron State (3-6 RMAC) and Nebraska-Kearney (4-5) on Thursday and Saturday before heading to the Denver area for games against Colorado Christian and Colorado Mines, both 5-4. Since three of those five teams (including 4-5 UCCS) will join Metro State in the postseason.
And as for Metro State, the 36th attempt is coming on Feb. 26.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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