Facing a potentially hostile crowd in a non-basketball facility playing on a travelling floor, CSU-Pueblo spoiled UC-Colorado Springs' Inaugural Downtown Classic Saturday at the Colorado Springs Auditorium, claiming a 66-54 win - and a measure of vengeance for its RMAC Tournament loss to the Mountain Lions a year ago.
The ThunderWolves relied on its senior leadership in a showdown between a pair of 8-2 teams. CSU-Pueblo hold control the entire way, only trailing for a few fleeting minutes in the first half while opening up an advantage of as much as 16.
Erica Hicks (Sr., Lakewood, Colo.), who torched the Mountain Lions on the road last season for a then-career high 27 points in leading the Pack to a 66-60 win, was just as hot Saturday, hitting four three-pointers en route to a game-high 20 points.
Down low, senior Laurel Kearsley (Sr., Victor, Idaho) kept UCCS honest both offensively and defensively, turning in her sixth double-double of the season with a 16-rebound, 14-point effort, finishing one off her career high in boards.
The win gives CSU-Pueblo a 9-2 record, off to its third best start in school history and approaching last season's 11-2 start. More importantly, the Pack stays tied for second place in the RMAC and secures some points for CSU-Pueblo in the "Steel and Silver Series," the all-sports competition between CSU-Pueblo and UCCS.
"The Steel and Silver Series" awards four points to the school that wins the season series in each of the ten sports that the two schools share (men's soccer, women's soccer, women's cross country, volleyball, women's basketball, men's basketball, women's indoor track, women's outdoor track, softball and men's golf). After Saturday's win, CSU-Pueblo earns its first points in the season, trailling 16-2, after UCCS won the season series in each fall sport so far this year. The first school to reach 23 points wins the season's competition.
CSU-Pueblo will now return home for a huge game Friday against Colorado Mesa, the current RMAC leader, Friday night at 5:30 p.m.