Comeback can't overcome big deficit as Mountain Lions fall to Nebraska-Kearney

By Doug Fitzgerald published January 30, 2010

KEARNEY, Neb. â€" University of Colorado at Colorado Springs womenâ€TMs basketball assistant coach Dave Lahnert has said “we play great when the game doesnâ€TMt matter anymore.”

It didnâ€TMt take long for Saturday afternoonâ€TMs game against Nebraska-Kearney to become irrelevant.

The Mountain Lions reduced what had been a 30-point deficit all the way to 13 but could not complete the comeback in an 84-70 loss to the Lopers at the Health & Sports Center.

Lauren Wolfinger and Payden Ackerman each scored 14 points for UCCS (5-14, 1-10 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference). Ashley Miller added 10 points and Mallory Lowe had a team-best seven rebounds. Wolfinger and Lauren Holm each had three assists.

By the 10 minute mark of the first half, the Mountain Lions trailed 25-8 after hitting just four of their first 18 shots. By halftime, the deficit had swelled to 42-16, a reduction from the 30 at which it peaked. UCCS shot 22.9 percent from the field in the first half, compared to 51.7 percent for the Lopers. Nebraska-Kearney coach Carol Russell was already six deep into her bench before the teams headed in for the intermission.

It took the Mountain Lions 36 minutes, 20 seconds of basketball in the state of Nebraska to finally be awarded a free throw, having been shut out in the first period of Thursdayâ€TMs game against Chadron State and waited 16:20 Saturday. When it finally happened, UCCS was slapped with yet another karmic twist as Mallory Lowe, a 74.4 percent free throw shooter, missed both.

UCCS has trailed in the first half in 17 of its 19 games and by double digits in 13 of those.

As has been the tragic trend for the Mountain Lions, the execution that had been an embarrassment in the first half was crisp and efficient after the game was out of hand.

The Mountain Lions had clawed all the way back to within 13 at 60-47 when a rare five-point play (a field goal with a foul called after the shot followed by a 3-pointer) sparked a 10-3 run to increase it back to 20. From that point, the effort spent whittling the lead down proved too costly to maintain.

Debi Johnson and Tessa Kreutzer each had 16 points to lead Nebraska-Kearney (4-13, 4-7 RMAC). Megan Becker added 14 points and Kim Thissen 13. Vanessa Leeper had a game-high eight rebounds, while Johnson and Thissen each had four assists.

The Lopers made 8-of-15 3-pointers. UCCSâ€TM past four opponents have now combined to go 40-for-97 on 3-pointers (41.2 percent). The Mountain Lions are dead last in the RMSAC in 3-point defense, allowing opponents a 35.5 mark. The 150 3-pointers made against the Mountain Lions are 32 more than any other RMAC team and 59 higher than the conference average.

Saturdayâ€TMs contest was a matchup of teams desperately in search of a silver lining to a storm-cloud season. Nebraska-Kearney came in having lost eight of its past nine while UCCS had dropped six of its past seven and 11 of 13. The Lopers found it, remaining just one game behind Chadron State for the final spot in the RMAC playoffs, a tournament Nebraska-Kearney has qualified for every season since it joined the conference in 1995.

The Mountain Lions will have to keep looking.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Mallory LoweMallory Lowe34C/F
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