Mountain Lions Knock Off Defending National Champs
COLORADO SPRINGS- Led by Lauren Wolfinger's 24 points, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs defeated a Top 10 opponent for the first time in school history in its 70-67 victory over the No. 5 Emporia State Hornets Saturday afternoon at the Gallogly Events Center.
After a back and forth first half, the Mountain Lions didn't hold a lead in the second half until there was only 31.4 seconds left in the game.
Wolfinger had five 3-pointers and three assists.
"Last night was kind of an off night, but my coaches and teammates had confidence in me," said the sophomore who went 5-for-16 Friday. "My big thing was just doing my thing and always looking to the next play."
Twin sisters Jessica and Danielle Brown contributed 18 and 14 points respectively. Jessica Brown had three assists and three steals while her sister had two assists and a game-high four steals.
The Mountain Lions had four players (Ashley Miller, Kallie Jiblits and both Brown sisters) with six rebounds to lead the way on the boards.
It appeared as if the depth and experience of the Hornets was taking over in the second half as they attained their largest lead, a 58-48 edge with 7:05 remaining.
The Mountain Lions had different ideas as two free throws and a quick 3-pointer by Danielle Brown halved that lead.
After that, it turned into the Lauren Wolfinger-Kelsey Newman show.
After Brown cut it to five, the ensuing spectacular defensive possession by the Mountain Lions went for not, as the Hornets' Newman hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock buzzer went off. Wolfinger answered with a three of her own the next time down the court only to see Newman again, this time of the two point variety, hit a buzzer beater after a great defensive stand. Once again, Wolfinger countered as she earned a trip to the free throw stripe, sinking both.
Following the quick show by Wolfinger and Newman, UCCS still found itself down by five. A few minutes later, UCCS cut the lead to two as Wolfinger pulled up and drained a three on a fast break.
"I was thinking, 'she was already set up and expected me to drive,'" said Wolfinger on her decision to pull up, "I had been hitting my shots."
After a technical foul by the Hornets, Wolfinger hit one of her two free throw attempts to pull UCCS within one (67-66) with 1:28 left on the clock. It stayed the same until the scoreboard showed 34.1 seconds when a strong drive and layup by Jessica Brown put the Mountain Lions up one.
Emporia State's Kelsey Balcom earned a trip to the free throw line with 13 seconds remaining and the same score, but missed both. A rebound by Danielle Brown and her conversion of two free throws after an intentional foul sealed the upset for the Mountain Lions.
"It definitely, if anything, will give us a confidence booster. It shows we can play with anyone, the defending national champs," said Wolfinger on the upset. "It gives us a lot of confidence moving toward the future."
Despite being outrebounded 55-32, UCCS played some of its best defense of the season, forcing the Hornets into 17 turnovers, 10 of which came on UCCS steals.
"I think it was everyone buying in and playing as a team and knowing our teammates had our back," said Wolfinger on the improved defense." We had better on-guard pressure which made it tough to get it in to the posts and (our) posts played great as well."
The Mountain Lions continue the tough beginning of their schedule next Friday as they take on the team that fell to the Hornets in last year's championship game, Fort Lewis
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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