Carter's buzzer-beater makes "victory" play prophetic
COLORADO SPRINGS - The play is appropriately named "victory" and the jaws of defeat, along with the New Mexico Highlands Cowboys, had it snatched away from them Friday evening.
Jordan Carter hit an over-the-shoulder flip shot as the clock expired to give the University of Colorado Colorado Springs Mountain Lions a thrilling 88-87 victory over New Mexico Highlands at the Gallogly Events Center. The shot came following a length-of-the-floor pass by Alex Koehler, thrown with less than a second remaining.
"All of the guys who have played for me over the last five and one-half years have been practicing that play," said UCCS coach Russ Caton. "We call it "victory." It's the first time we've ever had to use it."
The end of this game was not to be believed. A three-point play by Billy Austin with 26 seconds remaining completed a 10-4 highlands run that erased a six-point UCCS lead and tied the game at 86.
The Mountain Lions were angling for the final shot, but George Pollard's 3-point attempt went up with four seconds remaining. Marcus Williams grabbed the rebound and raced upcourt, colliding with Pollard at midcourt. Pollard's foul with less than a second remaining and Williams' subsequent free throw looked to have the game iced in favor of the Cowboys.
Williams intentionally missed the second free throw, and Alex Koehler grabbed the rebound while UCCS coach Russ Caton was calling for a time out. That left six tenths of a second on the clock with which the Mountain Lions could work.
Koehler threw the inbounds pass the length of the court, where Carter caught it with his back to the basket and, in the same motion, spun to his right. He flipped a blind shot toward the hoop and it banked in amid the protests of the Cowboys' bench.
UCCS (3-8, 2-3 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) is now 2-0 since Caton went to an extreme uptempo attack designed to take advantage of the Mountain Lions' collection of quick guards and 3-point acumen.
"Our guys are really believing in each other," said Caton. "I really feel like we've found the game that fits these guys."
The biggest benefactor to has been Darius Pardner, who led the Mountain Lions with 22 points and also grabbed five rebounds on Friday.
"We've changed our offense the past couple of weeks and it's now catered to certain people's strengths," said Pardner, who is averaging 25 points over the past two games "My strengths are getting up the floor, penetrating, finding these guys and when I'm open, taking the shot."
Pollard added 19 points and six steals, one theft short of the UCCS single-game record. Jake Darby had 17 points and a team-best four assists, while Kyle Clark had 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Williams led New Mexico Highlands (4-4, 3-2 RMAC) with 31 points. After scoring 21 on 8-of-9 shooting in the first half, however, he was held to 3-of-11 in the second.
Williams and Momcilo Latinovic were unstoppable in the first half, combining for 34 points on 13-of-16 shooting. That duo was instrumental as the Cowboys put together a 19-4 run over the final 3:04 of the first period to take a 51-42 lead into the intermission.
Latinovic, who finished with 18 points, had to be carried off the court with a lower leg injury after just three minutes of the second half. His production was picked up by Derek Freeman, who scored all 18 of his points in the second half.
After a Freeman dunk gave NMHU its biggest lead at 11 to open the second half, the Mountain Lions responded with a free throw by Darby and three jumpers by Pardner (two of which were 3-pointers) to cut the gap to 53-51. Highlands kept UCCS at arm's length before a pair of free throws by Pollard put the Mountain Lions up 67-66, their first lead since the 2:18 mark of the first period.
The Mountain Lions led by as many as seven, but a late 10-4 run, capped by the aforementioned three-point play by Austin, set up the last-second drama.
And a play called "victory."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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