Fernandez's Big Shots Lift UCCS to Big Win over Chadron State
COLORADO SPRINGS - Chris Fernandez hit three 3-pointers during a 13-1 run as the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs put itself, at least for now, into a spot in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference playoffs with a 66-57 win over the Chadron State Eagles Saturday evening at the Gallogly Events Center.
The Mountain Lions were trailing 48-45 with 5:48 remaining in the game when Brent Jones penetrated, drawing two defenders, and found Fernandez alone on the right side. Fernandez's rainbow jumper tied the game.
"I was just looking for the open shot," said Jones. "I had a pull-up (jumper) that I passed up for a better look and Chris made that shot. As I passed it, I trotted back because I knew it was going to go down.
"He just hits big shots like that."
The duo wasn't through, either. Jones found Fernandez again 34 seconds later to give UCCS a 51-48 lead.
The Mountain Lions forced turnovers one Chadron State's next two possessions, both of which turned into pairs of free throws by Tommy Klausner. After a free throw by the Eagles, Ben Feilmeier found Fernandez again to put UCCS up 58-49 with 2:15 left.
The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference's worst free throw shooting team made 8-of-10 down the stretch to preserve the win.
"Free throw shooting for us was huge," said UCCS coach Russ Caton. "In those time-and-score situations, that's where you win games - at the line."
Now 7-8 in the RMAC (9-14 overall), UCCS is a game ahead of both Chadron State and Nebraska-Kearney for the fourth and final East Division playoff spot with four games remaining. The Mountain Lions will face Colorado School of Mines at home on Friday and Colorado Christian, which they trail by a game for third place, next Saturday.
"We're in the hunt and we've got to win our home games," said Jones. "I think we've got a good chance; we've got the team to do it."
Fernandez finished with 15 points for UCCS. Jones added 14 points and a team-high four assists, while Cole Smith added nine points and eight assists. All 10 Mountain Lions that saw action scored.
Moala Tautuaa led Chadron State (8-14, 6-9 RMAC) with 15 points, including a thunderous, one-handed rebound and dunk. Kevin McClelland added 14 points and Donte Archie had 10 rebounds.
Saturday's game, at least in the first half, was the antithesis of the previous meeting between the teams. In that Jan. 28 game, Chadron State raced to an 18-4 lead over the first six minutes and led 25-6 with 11:44 remaining in the first half.
It took the Eagles 15 minutes, 28 seconds to reach the 18-point mark Friday as both teams played a careful, methodical offense and struggled with its shooting accuracy. Chadron State finished the first half leading 26-25 with 40.9 percent shooting from the field and just 2-for-8 on 3-pointers. That was possible because UCCS hit just 38.5 percent and 2-for-9 3-pointers.
The Mountain Lions came back to hit 45 percent in the second half to put them at 41.3 percent for the game. More importantly, particularly down the stretch, was the team's 80.8 percent mark from the foul line.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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