Hill's 16 points not enough as UCCS men fall to Bemidji State

By Doug Fitzgerald published November 12, 2011

COLORADO SPRINGS - Damar Hill had 16 points and five assists as the University of Colorado Colorado Springs staged a late rally that came up short in a 77-69 loss Saturday evening to the Bemidji State Beavers at the Gallogly Events Center.

The Mountain Lions staked the Beavers to a 14-point halftime lead that had grown to 15 when Zach Noreen hit a 3-pointer with 7:52 remaining to make it 65-50. Over the next 4:12, the Mountain Lions got layups by Kyle Clark and Hill and 3-pointers by Hill and Alan Paul while surrendering only a free throw. Suddenly, with just under four minutes remaining, UCCS was trailing 66-60.

James Ellisor scored off a sharp pass by Jake Schalow, and then Jason Edwards stole the ball and converted it iinto a breakaway layup to inflate Bemidji's cushion to 10 with 2:17 left. UCCS played the foul game to try to close from that point, but the Beavers were able to make enough to keep the Mountain Lions at arm's length.

"I think you saw a glimpse of what we could be," said UCCS coach Russ Caton. "We've got to get a little more consistent in what we're doing and get a little more familiar with each other."

Although the Mountain Lions slipped to 0-2, recent history proves conclusively that where a Caton team starts has little to do with where it ends up. UCCS qualified for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference playoffs in both 2008-09 and 2009-10, but started those seasons 0-7 and 0-5 respectively.

Add to that a tough opening schedule and only four returning players on the roster and 0-2 seems pretty mundane.

"I didn't think we were ready for these games as a team," said Caton. "I probably should have waited to do a cross-conference challenge; we shouldn't be playing regular season games yet. Bringing in as many new guys as we did, we're not quite there as a team yet.

"We were playing two very good ball clubs who have a lot of returners and a lot of good experience."

Ellisor lead Bemidji State (1-1) with 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Matt Heydman added 13 points for UCCS, while Jeff Isaac, Alan Paul and Jordan Carter each had 10. Carter and Heydman had eight and seven rebounds respectively.

Layups by Ellisor and Noreen helped the Beavers push ahead by seven in the first half, but the dagger came when Schalow hit a 3-pointer and Hill was called for a foul after the ball was in flight. Given possession of the ball, Schalow nailed another trey. His six points in seven seconds put Bemidji up 31-18. The Mountain Lions never fully recovered

"We can't expect to win if we come out flat in the first half," said Heydman.

UCCS will host a four-team tournament next Friday and Saturday as Wayne State, Oklahoma Panhandle State and Northwest Nazarene come to Colorado Springs.

"There's nothing ever easy in this game," said Caton. "We don't have any easy games on our schedule and hopefully playing these tough teams will pay off down the road."

Why not? It did the last two times UCCS went to the playoffs.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Damar HillDamar Hill30G
Damar HillDamar Hill30G
Damar HillDamar Hill30G
Kyle ClarkKyle Clark33CJr
Kyle ClarkKyle Clark33CJr.
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