DENVER, Colo. - A battle-scarred CSU-Pueblo squad continued to defy the odds Friday, withstanding injuries and coming back from a halftime deficit to down Regis 89-80.
CSU-Pueblo contended with a Regis team that has established itself as the best three-point-shooting team in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, outlasting numerous Ranger runs throughout the game. Led by the RMAC's leading scorer, Tae'lor Purdy, who scored 26 points and hit four three-pointers, Regis led by as much as eight points in the first half and held a 45-43 lead at halftime.
"They shot it really well in the first half and we survived that," CSU-Pueblo head coach Kip Drown said. "I thought we took their best shot in the first half and to only be down two at half, we felt pretty good about it."
The ThunderWolves were able to stop the Regis onslaught by using a great inside attacking offense and numerous drives to the bucket to open up a lead. The Pack broke a deadlock with an 10-2 run to start the half, jumping out to a 53-47 lead, and never looked back.
The second half was nearly tumultuous as the ThunderWolves, which only dressed nine Friday as it continues to try and beat the injury bug, saw senior wing Alex Evans (Sr., Louisville, Colo.) go down like a ton of bricks, suffering an apparent ankle injury. But Evans only sat out a few possessions to gimp back into the game, still gutting out 33 minutes of floor time on the night.
But no amount of bumps and bruises could overshadow the second half positives - Purdy only scored six points in the second half after a 20-point first half and the ThunderWolves only turned the ball over twice in the second frame.
"We executed really well and attacked some people that had foul trouble," Drown said. "To come on the road and only turn it over eight times and only twice in the second half, we are really happy with our performance."
A big key to that performance was the play of point guard Jenay Locke (Sr., Gilbert, Ariz.). Locke was near-perfect, only turning the ball over once early in the first half, and missing only free throw, hitting 12-of-13 charities to score a career-high 19 points.
"She gave us what you want from your point guard," Drown said. "Put the ball in her hands and let her get it to the rim. She really needed to attack tonight and she did that."
Locke said she was "in the zone" Friday, which led to some great opportunities for her Pack teammates, which saw four ThunderWolves score 16 points or more.
"[After the first half turnover], I was able to get it together and make things happen," Locke said. "The ball felt really good coming out of my hands tonight. Coach wanted us to attack and penetrate their low guards and we were able to do that."
With the victory, CSU-Pueblo is off to its first 3-0 conference start since 2009-10, which was also the last time the ThunderWolves won an RMAC Championship. CSU-Pueblo will try to stretch it to 4-0 in conference play when it travels to Metro State Saturday night.