Mountain Lions have Senior Moment in Win over Chadron State
COLORADO SPRINGS - For the most part this season, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs men's basketball team would like to tell Dorothy and her "there's no place like home" exactly where to go. There's been no Auntie Em waiting for the Mountain Lions, who had won just once on nine tries against Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opponents at the Gallogly Events Center coming into Friday's game.
So forget the ruby slippers. UCCS' road to home success isn't paved with yellow bricks. It's paved with tremendous performances by its seniors.
And thanks to those seniors, the Mountain Lions finally solved their home-court jinx, outscoring the Chadron State Eagles 22-6 over the final 5:48, to win 82-73 Friday evening before a Gallogly crowd of 537.
"Any kind of win makes you feel good, home or away," said UCCS coach Russ Caton. "There was really some great basketball in that game on both ends of the floor. It was a fun one to watch."
Senior Brent Jones had 27 points, eight rebounds, five steals and five assists to lead the Mountain Lions (8-15, 6-13 RMAC). Another senior, Rob Howe, chimed in with 17 points and a game-high nine rebounds, while sophomore Damar Hill had 10 points, five assists and three steals. A third senior, Luke Hristou, matched Jones' five steals. The fourth senior, Ben Feilmeier, was the focus of the Chadron State gameplan but still managed four assists and kept the defense stretched to prevent him from shooting 3-pointers.
"We're starting to realize that our time is running out and were trying to make the most of it," said Jones on behalf of all the team's seniors.
A Ray Mitchell putback gave Chadron State (6-18, 4-16 RMAC) a 67-60 advantage, matching its biggest lead, with 5:48 left in the game. Howe hit a free throw and a 3-pointer and Feilmeier converted a Jones pass to cut the gap to 67-66 with just over four minutes to play.
A dunk by Moala Tautuaa, who led the Eagles with 22 points, was answered by back-to-back field goals by Howe and Jones that put UCCS up 70-69, their first lead since the 12:29 mark.
Shey Mataele put back a missed 3-pointer to again give Chadron a one-point lead, after which UCCS took control. Jones hit two free throws and, after a Howe rebound on the defensive end, Hristou drilled a clutch 3-pointer from the corner. A Jones steal was turned into a Jones driving bank shot from the right side that put the Mountain Lions up 77-71 with just 45 seconds remaining. Free throws and a highlight-reel dunk by Alan Paul with two seconds remaining provided the final margin.
Over the final 5:48, the UCCS seniors accounted for 17 points and five rebounds (four by Howe).
"Rob came up with some huge rebounds down the stretch, just clearing it off the boards, ripping it down and being strong with it," said Caton. "That was the big difference."
And then he started listing other performances by his seniors.
"(Hristou's) big three in the corner, knocking that down, and (Jones) coming up with some big plays on both ends of the floor. They know about (Feilmeier) and his shooting and they did a pretty good job trying to eliminate his shots. He did a good job getting some people involved with some extra passes."
Kevin McClelland was second to Tautuaa in scoring for the Eagles with 17 points.
After being scorched for 56 percent shooting in the first half, UCCs held the Eagles to 31.4 percent in the second. The Mountain Lions also committed a season-low eight turnovers.
"What we really tried to do was to take the ball out of (McClelland's) and (Tautuaa's) hands," said Jones about the second half. "We helped off where we could and I think that was the difference defensively."
It was particularly effective against McClelland, who was 3-for-5 from the field (all 3-pointers) in the first half and 0-for-7 in the second.
"They're smart basketball players," said Caton of his seniors. "All of them know the game really well and when we put the effort into that, they're fun to watch."
And perhaps even discover there really is no place like home after all.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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