Statement made but win remains elusive for men's basketball team
COLORADO SPRINGS - For Russ Caton, Friday's men's basketball matchup against the Western State Mountaineers was a statement game, albeit an unconventional one.
It wasn't a statement serving notice to the rest of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference that the Mountain Lions were on the rise. Instead it was a statement to his own team. Caton benched three of his top five scorers because he wanted players who would play with passion on defense and not settle for the long jumper on offense.
Ben Feilmeier's 3-point attempt at the buzzer missed as the Mountain Lions dropped a 51-48 decision in a game that had all the artistry and grace of a greased pig contest, although lacking the excitement and entertainment value. Despite that, Caton was resolute in his decision to juggle the lineup.
"To be honest with you, I feel a whole lot better after this game than last Monday's game (a loss to Colorado State-Pueblo) because I could tell these guys were trying and they really wanted it," said Caton. "There was some passion there that I really haven't seen from some guys."
The new lineup worked on the defensive end. The Mountain Lions held Western State to 29.2 percent shooting, the lowest mark this season by a UCCS opponent.
Offensively, the Mountain Lions were abysmal, hitting 32.1 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from the foul line.
"Obviously, we had trouble scoring the ball with some of those guys so we've got to figure out what to do there on the offensive end," said Caton.
Tanner Adams led UCCS (4-8, 2-6 RMAC) with 16 points, four steals and two blocked shots. Feilmeier added 12 points, hitting four of his nine 3-point attempts. J.T. Isaac led the team with eight rebounds.
Western State (3-11, 2-7 RMAC) was led by Martin Graham's 11 points and Weylan Towns' 10.Troy McCoy had a game-high 12 rebounds.
Even with the shakeup and the dismal offensive numbers, UCCS had a chance to win it and even held a 48-46 lead with 1:30 remaining. A layup attempt by Western State's Alex Hart was blocked by Adams and no fewer than six players touched the ball in the scramble for the ball that ensued. The ball squirted to McCoy, who dumped it out to Casey Jackson for the 3-pointer and the lead.
Feilmeier and Chase Richards each missed shot attempts in the final minute. Feilmeier's resulted in a rebound by McCoy and a UCCS foul. Graham missed the front end of his one-and one, giving UCCS another chance. This time, Richards put up a difficult attempt in the paint, failing to draw the foul in the process. That miss turned into two made free throws by Andrew Zehnder with seven seconds remaining.
Feilmeier got a good screen and had a decent look at a 22-footer, but the attempt missed at the buzzer.
"Some games you lose and they hurt and some games you lose and you feel bad about it," said Caton. "I just feel better personally because they were trying harder than I've seen in the past."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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