Mountain Lions Ask 'Why Not?' Before Setting New Highs in Win Over Lopers
COLORADO SPRINGS â€" If you're trying to break out of a slump, don't ask why. Ask why not?
"We always talk about why things don't happen and why we can't do this or why we need to do that," said University of Colorado at Colorado Springs coach Stephen Kirkham, whose team had lost seven straight and 15 of its past 17. "Tonight, I went in (the locker room) and said 'why not?'"
Apparently, that was a question that needed asking.
Payden Ackerman, Lauren Wolfinger and Ashley Miller each scored career highs as the Mountain Lions came within a point of setting a new school record for scoring with a 101-93 victory over the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers Saturday evening at the Gallogly Events Center.
The scoring output matched the Mountain Lions' total of Feb. 27, 2009 against Regis. The UCCS all-time best was 102 against Fort Lewis on Jan. 28, 1994.
Ackerman hit her first seven 3-point attempts, three in the game's first three minutes, on her way to a career-best 27 points. The sophomore from Trinidad previously had scored 19 against Colorado State-Pueblo on Dec. 19, 2008. She came within two of matching the UCCS school record for 3-pointers (nine) set by Amber Anderson on Feb. 11, 1995 against Colorado Christian.
Wolfinger, a freshman, scored 20 Friday to best her previous high by two and also added five assists and three steals. Miller's 16 bettered her previous high of 14, which the sophomore has done twice. She also had seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
Joining that trio in double figures for UCCS (6-16, 2-12 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) were Mallory Lowe, who had 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds, and Lauren Holm, who added a team-best seven assists to her 10 points.
"We shot the ball well. When we shoot the ball well, we do everything else that we're supposed to do," said Kirkham. "We just haven't shot the ball well very many times this year."
UCCS shot 50.7 percent from the field and 96 percent (24-for-25) from the foul line, both season highs. The team's 47.4 percent mark on 3-pointers was its second best of the year. The Mountain Lions also registered 20 assists against just 13 turnovers.
"If you had told me that Kearney was going to score 93, shoot 45 percent from the field, 42 from the 3-point line and 84 from the free throw line, I would have said we don't have a prayer," said Kirkham while looking at the stat sheet. "The kids just came to play."
That they did. After Ackerman's accuracy from long range helped UCCS avoid the early-game malaise that has been its unfortunate trademark, Wolfinger had six points and Holm four in a 12-2 run that game the Mountain Lions a 36-24 lead with 6:13 remaining in the first half. The Lopers grinded the lead down to six only to have 3-pointers by Janean Jubic and Caley Fisher start a 12-4 UCCS run to close the period. The Mountain Lions went into the intermission leading 48-34.
Three more 3-pointers by Ackerman fueled a 17-3 run that gave the Mountain Lions a commanding 65-41 lead with 13:58 remaining. The lead was 26 three minutes later when the Lopers changed tactics.
"Kearney did some good things in the second half," said Kirkham. "They spread us out, attacked the basket and went to the free throw line a lot. They're a well-coached team."
While Nebraska-Kearney managed to chip the lead all the way down to six points, it came far too late with just 10 seconds showing on the clock.
"When we get ahead, we're pretty tough," said Kirkham.
Lee Ann Jameson led Nebraska-Kearney (8-14, 7-8 RMAC) with 23 points, while Kim Thissen and Debi Johnson each added 22. Thissen added a game-high 12 rebounds. Te Lopers were nearly as accurate as UCCS from the foul line, converting 21 of their 25 attempts.
As good as those numbers were, the really impressive thing was that UCCS took control of the game despite them and were never seriously threatened.
"Tonight was 'why not' night," said Kirkham. "Instead of saying 'team' in the huddle, we said 'why not?'"
Why not indeed.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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