Fort Lewis Spoils Mountain Lions' RMAC Opener
Russ Caton saw a lot to like Friday evening. Unfortunately for Caton and his University of Colorado at Colorado Springs team, there wasn't enough to like as the Mountain Lions were beaten 78-65 by the Fort Lewis Skyhawks at Gallogly Events Center.
"We did a whole lot of things right in that game; it was a huge positive for us," said Caton. "Our bench guys stepped up and gave us some great minutes."
True enough. Alan Paul scored 10 points and had a couple of big blocked shots. Dalton Patten had eight points on 4-for-5 shooting and six rebounds in 15 minutes of playing time. Luke Hristou tied for the team lead with seven rebounds, J.T. Isaac played some effective defense and Chase Richards dished out a couple of assists.
The starters also played well. Sophomore guard Damar Hill followed up his school-record 13-assist performance from this past Saturday by dishing out seven more against Fort Lewis Friday. Jordan McClung led the Mountain Lions with 13 points, while Brent Jones and Alan Paul each had 10. McClung matched Hristou with seven rebounds.
Still, it was a loss for the Mountain Lions.
"We were playing a great basketball team," said Caton. "That means there is a very, very small room for error."
Burley Fort Lewis center Matt Morris led all players with 20 points and nine rebounds. David Kanyinda and DeAndre Landsdowne added 14 and 12 points respectively while Dorian Williams had four assists.
The Mountain Lions hurt themselves with their inability to make their 3-pointers and propensity for putting the Skyhawks at the foul line. UCCS shot just 18.2 percent (4-for-22) on 3-pointers and put Fort Lewis on the foul line for 35 attempts, 25 of which were made. UCCS was 11-for-15 on free throws.
The Mountain Lions were held to 39.1 percent shooting for the game, the first time this season they failed to reach 50 percent.
Fort Lewis improved to 5-0 and 1-0 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play. UCCS slipped to 2-3, 0-1 RMAC.
Fort Lewis opened the game by making its first eight field goal attempts, allowing them to race to a 22-11 lead.
"It took us a little while to adjust to their offensive power; every guy out there is a threat and a great scorer," said Caton.
But adjust they did - and impressively. The UCCS defense stiffened, holding the Skyhawks to 1-for-16 shooting the rest of the half. Despite that, Fort Lewis still managed to take a 35-24 lead into the locker room thanks largely to 21 first-half free throw attempts. UCCS attempted five.
The Mountain Lions opened the second half with an eight-point run to take their first lead of the game at 37-35. It swelled to 45-40 before Fort Lewis reeled off 11 straight, including two 3-pointers by Kanyinda.
The Mountain Lions kept the deficit under six until the 3:09 mark, when four points each by Kanyinda and Morris completed another 8-0 run that put Fort Lewis up 74-62 with just 37 seconds remaining. UCCS committed three of its 15 turnovers during that crucial 2:46 stretch.
"I thought we played well the whole game, but at the end it came down to a few possessions," said McClung.
"We put ourselves in a good position to take advantage some good opportunities that we didn't capitalize on," he said, "and when it comes down to it, that's the difference between winning and losing in basketball."
Making the opportunities is the first step. Taking advantage consistently is the next. Caton's teams have a history of improving as the season progresses, making a performance like Friday's all the more encouraging.
"We're definitely starting to play better together," said McClung. "Every game, we're getting better."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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