For the Mountain Lions, you could call Friday’s win a rebounding success.
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs outrebounded Colorado State-Pueblo 51-29, including 17 on the offensive glass, in a 91-83 defeat of the Thunderwolves at the Lions’ Den.
The big advantage on the boards helped UCCS (2-7, 2-0 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) overcome 21 turnovers at mediocre 63 percent free throw shooting.
“We’ve done a great job rebounding the basketball,” said UCCS coach Russ Caton, “and even with what we’re averaging on turnovers, it’s keeping us in games.”
Nick Weaver led five Mountain Lions in double figures with 21 points. Cole Smith (15), Chris Fernandez (13), Ben Feilmeier (12) and Jordan McClung (11) also reached double digits. In UCCS’ previous game, a win over Western New Mexico, six players scored in double figures.
According to Fernandez, spreading the scoring wealth in an integral part of coach Russ Caton’s fast-paced offense.
“That's the way it's supposed to be,” said Fernandez, who also had seven rebounds and three blocked shots. “If you're not going shoot, if you're not going to attack and be aggressive, you can't play this kind of offense. We've got faith in each other and that's why it's clicking now.”
Rome Smith led CSU-Pueblo (4-6, 2-1 RMAC) with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Marc Williams added 18 points, while Roman Van Allen had 11 points four assists and five steals.
The Thunderwolves took early control of the game, racing to a 13-4 lead. They led 20-12 when McClung scored eight points to power a 15-2 UCCS run. The Mountain Lions never trailed afterwards.
The Thunderwolves did shrink the lead all the way down to one, though, at 70-69 with 4:17 remaining.
“They did a good job of controlling the tempo in the second half,” said Caton. “They really tried to slow it up on us. We need to figure out a way to continue to push the pace and get teams to speed it up.”
Field goals by Feilmeier and Fernandez extended the lead to five with just over three minutes left. From there, the Mountain Lions, who were a miserable 6-of-14 from the foul line up to that point, made 11 of their final 13 free throws to ice the game.
The win, combined with the UCCS women’s basketball team’s victory earlier in the evening, gave UCCS a commanding 18-6 lead in the 2008-09 Steel & Silver Series. Two points each remain available in men’s basketball and men’s golf, while four points each remain for women’s indoor track, outdoor track and softball. Five points are awarded to the athletic department that earns the highest cumulative grade point average.