COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. The Colorado College men’s basketball team utilized an impressive defensive effort on Friday night at Reid Arena to pick up its most important win of the season.
The Tigers held first-place Schreiner University to more than 13 points below its season average and pulled away during the final five minutes for a 76-65 victory.
CC improved to 11-12 overall and leveled its Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference record at 6-6. The Tigers are in fifth place, but are within a half-game of fourth-place Trinity University, which visits Colorado College on Sunday.
Eric Houska scored a game-high 24 points, including 10 during the final 4:05 to help CC maintain a double-digit lead. The senior guard also dished out a game-high six assists.
After falling behind 53-44 just past the midway point of the second half, the Mountaineers used an 11-4 surge to cut their deficit to two points when senior guard Keenan Gumbs scored on a layup with 4:52 to play.
A pair of free throws by senior guard John Hatch gave the Tigers a four-point lead, and then the Tigers added a Houska layup and a three-point play by sophomore forward CooXooEii to build a nine-point cushion.
Colorado College added two Houska free throws and a put-back by Black before Schreiner’s Keenan Gumbs ended the Tigers’ 11-0 run with a three-pointer with just 1:10 to go.
CC built a 14-point lead for the first time when senior guard Bobby Roth sank a pair of free throws with 59 seconds remaining, and the Mountaineers never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Roth went 3-for-3 from behind the arc and finished with 12 points.
Senior forward Chris Martin scored 13 points and pulled down five rebounds.
Colorado College got a huge lift from the return of Hatch, who scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked three shots in just 22 minutes.
Hatch came off the bench a little more than five minutes into the game and scored all seven points during a 7-2 run that gave the Tigers a 16-9 lead.
Black grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds and added nine points for CC.
Senior Blake Kelly and Gumbs scored 13 points apiece for Schreiner, which never led by more than two points.
Junior guard TJ Distefano added 10 points for the Mountaineers, who slipped to 12-10 overall and 9-2 in the SCAC.
Gumbs hit a three-pointer from the right wing with 3.6 remaining in the first half to put Schreiner up 31-29 after 20 minutes.
Martin’s three-point play 22 seconds into the second half gave Colorado College a one-point lead, but senior guard Luis Mancillas hit a jumper 14 seconds later to give the Mountaineers their final lead of the night.