UCCS Drops Season Opener Despite Big Night by Hill
DURANGO, Colo. - A career night by Damar Hill wasn't enough to prevent the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs from dropping a 76-65 decision to the Northwest Nazarene Crusaders Friday evening at Whalen Gymnasium.
The sophomore from Paramount, Calif., led the Mountain Lions with 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting, most coming from the interior as the 5-foot-9 guard used his quickness and court awareness to be successful in the land of the giants.
"When I would come off screens, the bigs would show," said Hill, "but they'd go right back to the bigs, which left me able to turn the corner and get to the basket."
Hill's points and steals (four) totals were new career highs. His previous scoring best was 11 against Mesa State on Jan. 16, 2010 and his previous steals standard was three, which had had done three times.
"I worked hard this summer and it showed today," said Hill, who was sporting a scratch and sizeable lump on his nose as a consequence of his willingness to battle inside.
The game was the season opener for both teams as well as the first game of the George B. Boedecker Classic, hosted by Fort Lewis College.
Brent Jones added 14 points for UCCS, while Luke Hristou had eight and Rob Howe seven. Jones had a team-best five rebounds for the Mountain Lions, who were beaten on the boards 34-23 by the bigger Crusaders.
Drew Eisinger led Northwest Nazarene with 17 points, including clutch 3-pointers to thwart two Mountain Lions' second-half runs. Brian Barkdoll, listed as 6-foot-10 but that's only if he's barefoot and standing in a hole, added 14 points and a game-high seven rebounds.
Consecutive layups by Howe, Jones and Hill plus a 3-pointer by Howe got UCCS to within three early in the second half, but Eisinger answered with the second of his four 3-pointers to push the cushion to 44-38.
The gap hovered between six and 10 and had just been reduced to seven by a Ben Feilmeier 3-pointer when Eisinger nailed back-to-back treys to spark a 12-2 run that swelled the gap to 68-51 with 6:18 remaining.
Northwest Nazarene shot 54.7 percent overall and, more importantly, hit seven of 13 3-point attempts.
"We knew what those guys could do and we still let them do it," said UCCS coach Russ Caton. "That was the big disappointment for me. We knew they could shoot."
There were positives. The Mountain Lions shot 52.1 percent from the field, much of that coming on well-executed layups (UCCS had 20 assists on 25 field goals, a very high ratio). They had 13 steals and did a good job keeping the Crusaders from driving to the hoop.
On the down side, several of UCCS' 15 turnovers came because players over-penetrated rather than passing or passed into a guarded lane.
"We played some good minutes of basketball tonight; we just aren't playing enough good minutes," said Caton. "We did too many things that cut our own throats as far as our decisions and some of the things we do handling the ball.
"Until we start doing more things right than wrong, we're not going to come out on the winning side of things."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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