UCCS Women 78, NM-Highlands 66

Behind a school-record 36 free throws made, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs women’s basketball team earned its first-ever 3-0 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference start with a 78-66 victory over the New Mexico Highlands Cowgirls Saturday evening at the Lions’ Den.

A third record was broken when Jazzmin Awa-Williams hit a short jumper at the 14:59 mark of the first half. It was the 10th consecutive made field goal (over a three-game span) for the sophomore from Kailuakona, Hawaii, breaking her own record of nine straight that she set earlier this season.

UCCS has now won five of its past six games.

Awa-Williams led the Mountain Lions (5-5, 3-0 RMAC) with 18 points and four assists. Janean Jubic added 13 points, while Ashley Miller had 10. Nancy Hoist grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.

Oliana Seanoa led New Mexico Highlands (0-7, 0-3 RMAC) with 16 points.

The Mountain Lions were as good as they can be in the first half, racing out to a 20-4 lead and going into the intermission with a 39-18 advantage. UCCS shot 65 percent in the half, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range and had eight steals.

A 3-point play by Mallory Lowe made it 46-20 early in the second half. Like many young teams, though, UCCS couldn’t maintain the focus and intensity that built the lead in the first place. The Cowgirls used a full-court trap to take the Mountain Lions out of their offense and were able to whittle the deficit all the way down to eight at 58-50 with 7:21 remaining.

But the Cowgirls paid for it. The reaching and grabbing required of the trap resulted in many fouls as UCCS went to the line 49 times. Each of the Mountain Lions’ final 20 points came on free throws.