Mountain Lions Rally to Preserve Overtime Win
DURANGO - Brent Jones had four points, two rebounds and two blocked shots in overtime as he and the rest of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' senior class fought off an epic comeback to defeat the Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds 80-76 Saturday afternoon at Whalen Gym.
All five of the Mountain Lions' seniors scored in double figures as UCCS improved to 1-1 on the season and at the George B. Boedecker Classic.
Jones led the way with 16 points. Luke Hristou was next with 12, followed by three (Rob Howe, Ben Feilmeier and Jordan McClung) with 11. Howe and McClung each added eight rebounds, while McClung also had five assists and four steals.
For Howe, the points, rebounds and his two blocked shots were all new career highs.
"When you have experience, you look for those guys to step up in crunch time," said Howe. "We did that."
That was most evident in the overtime. With the score tied at 70 and 2:36 remaining, Feilmeier penetrated to draw the defense before dishing to Hristou for an open layup. After the Greyhounds missed a 3-point attempt, Feilmeier saw that Stefan Mirabal was playing too aggressive on the ball, so he took a fake step toward the basket, putting Mirabal on his heels, and drove hard to his left. Off-balance, Mirabal committed the foul and Feilmeier converted on both free throws. An ENMU offensive foul gave the Mountain Lions the ball back and Hristou drew the double team and found McClung for the layup and a 76-70 lead with 1:17 left.
"We finally saw our experience shine through a little bit there," said UCCS coach Russ Caton. "We had some seniors who knew what to do to get the game done at the end."
A Mirabal 3-pointer was answered by yet another layup, this one by Jones with the help of one of Damar Hill's team-best six assists.
"The thing I'm proud of is that I saw the mentality of our team change," said Caton. "I saw a team that just went out there and took it. They didn't settle and, instead of leaving things up to chance, they went and made stuff happen."
It was a game that had more storylines that a weekday soap opera. The Mountain Lions won a Division II nonconference game for the first time since Nov. 17, 2007, a 99-91 decision over North Dakota which also went into overtime. It was the most turnovers (27) ever committed by a UCCS team in a win, eclipsing the previous dubious standard of 25 against Colorado Christian on Dec. 15, 2001. UCCS outshot ENMU by a massive 56.9 percent to 31.6 percent margin, but was smashed 20-4 on offensive rebounds.
Then there was the epic comeback by the Greyhounds which, had it been completed, would have also been remembered as an epic collapse by the Mountain Lions.
Having led by as many as 15, UCCS scored its 58th point, a Jones free throw, with 6:57 remaining to lead by 14. From that point, a fan who might have left, used the restroom, bought a hot dog and returned would think the scoreboard was broken because it stayed there for 2:35 on the game clock but a good 15 minutes on the real clock. During that span, the Mountain Lions missed six straight free throws and committed three fouls as the advantage shrunk to six.
Field goals by Hristou and Feilmeier increased the lead to 10, but back-to-back 3-pointers and a conventional three-point play made it 62-61. After Hristou scored again, another 3-pointer tied the game at 64 with just under a minute remaining.
One free throw by Howe and two by Feilmeier gave the Mountain Lions a 67-64 lead but, with just eight seconds left, Max Carrier took advantage of UCCS' guarding against the 3-pointer to throw down a dunk and cut the lead to one. The Greyhounds immediately fouled Howe, who missed both free throws.
Incredibly, Hristou was whistled for a rebounding foul, giving ENMU a chance to steal the win with four seconds left. Gerald Brown missed the second of his two free throws, though, and the game went into overtime.
Mirabal led ENMU (2-2) with 20 points. Carrier grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds to go with his 19 points.
The win was an encouraging sign for the Mountain Lions, who have made a habit of slow starts the past two seasons. In 2008-09 they started 0-5. The past season they were 0-7. Both years they rallied to make the playoffs.
But that's another storyline.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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