Mountain Lions overcome Orediggers
GOLDEN, Colo. - A good team find a way to win when it isn't at its best. The University of Colorado Colorado Springs did just that on Friday.
Abby Kirchoff had 16 points and Danielle Brown added nine rebounds, eight points and four assists to lead the Mountain Lions to a 54-49 win over the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers at Lockridge Arena.
Brown is the Mountain Lions' rebounding leader despite standing just 5-foot-6.
"Danny always goes her hardest all the time," said Kirchoff. "She's so fast and she can jump so high, she can get the rebounds."
UCCS didn't shoot well, hitting just 34 percent of its field goals overall and 18.8 percent of its 3-pointers. On top of that, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference's best free throw shooting team (76.1 percent coming into Friday) managed to make just 60 percent.
But also give credit where it's due. Mines came into the game with the RMAC's second-best shooting defense, allowing opponents a paltry 34.4 percent field goal percentage.
"When you're not shooting the ball well, you have to rely on your defense," said UCCS coach Corey Laster. "I thought our defense was really solid."
The Mountain Lions held Mines to 33.9 percent shooting overall, including 25 percent on 3-pointers. UCCS also forced 19 turnovers.
In attendance were well over 100 UCCS fans, most of who came up on buses as part of an organized road trip. At the beginning of the game, the Mountain Lion fans outnumbered those of the home team. And Clyde, the UCCS mascot, by all accounts won the halftime dance-off against Marvin the Miner.
Ashley Miller added 13 points for UCCS (5-3, 1-2 RMAC). Bre Burgesser, a freshman center from Broomfield, saw a career-high 26 minutes and got five points and four rebounds. UCCS was playing without post player Sammi Gentile, who was nursing an injury sustained a week ago at Adams State.
"Bre gave us great minutes, which is what we needed her to do," said Laster. "Without Sammi Gentile, it was tough down low for us in terms of scoring."
Stephanie Fogle led Mines (2-6, 1-1 RMAC) with 18 points.
As the quicker team, UCCS would benefit from a faster game. Mines needed to slow things down. In the first half, Mines won the battle of styles. It took the Mountain Lions 4:27 to score their first point and had were stuck at seven with 9:06 remaining in the period.
Despite the unfavorable pace, UCCS managed to close to within one at 16-15 before settling for a 25-19 deficit at the break.
"The first half was a learning experience for a lot of our players when it comes to RMAC play," said Laster. "It was a grind-it-out first half and we struggled to score the basketball."
The Mountain Lions used some full-court pressure to force a faster tempo opening the second half. The change of pace finally changed the lead with 16:38 remaining in the game as a pair of free throws by Danielle Brown provided the game's first tie and then the first UCCS lead at 28-27. The Mountain Lions would continue what became a 13-2 run to go up 32-27.
"In the second half we committed a little bit more to turn up the tempo," said Laster. "Our defensive pressure was the difference."
But the Orediggers again managed to slow the pace, giving the game all the grace of sumo wrestlers performing ballet. A pair of Allie Grazulis free throws with 3:22 tied the game again at 45.
The Brown twins went to work as UCCS spread the floor to prevent Mines from clogging the lane. On consecutive possessions, each twin drove baseline and drew a foul. But each also made just one of her two free throws to give UCCS a precarious two-point lead.
A drive by Jessica Brown with 27 seconds left collapsed the defense, allowing her to dump to Burgesser for a wide-open layup and a four-point lead. The Orediggers hit a quick jumper, but two Kirchoff free throws made it 51-47 with just 22 seconds left.
"We had to fight all the way through to the end; I don't think we ever let up on them," said Kirchoff.
That's what good teams do.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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