DENVER, Colo. - The most successful season in the history of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs men's basketball team came to an end tonight as the Mountain Lions fell 76-72 to Metro State in the opening round of the 2014 NCAA Division II Tournament at the Auraria Event Center. UCCS will finish with a program-best record of 21-9 in its first NCAA postseason appearance in program history.
White finished with 20 points, with 16 of his points at the free throw line. He will finish with the UCCS record for points in a season with 621, more than 60 points past the previous record. Darius Pardner scored 15 points to lead the bench.
"I thought our guys played a great game tonight and I am proud of them," said UCCS Head Coach Jeff Culver in the postgame press conference. "Nobody wants to lose the last game of the season, especially in a game where we felt we had some chances down the stretch."
The Mountain Lions started the game with the first five points, but it was a back-and-forth game with nine lead changes in the first 13 minutes. Metro State opened up an 11-point lead, the last on a pair of free throws with 43 seconds left, and led by nine points at halftime 43-34 after a layup from TreShawn Wilford.
UCCS made it a one possession game three times in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and trailed 59-57 with 10:15 left to play after a layup from Alex Welsh. He finished with 14 points, despite an injury at midcourt from a collision with Wilford near the 9:30 mark of the second half. Welsh returned to the game just more than a minute later and tied the game at 59-59 with 7:18 on the clock.
Tim Billingsley provided the Mountain Lions their first second half lead on a three-pointer with six minutes to play. He finished with nine points, with a pair of three-pointers to open each half for the Mountain Lions.
Wilford returned with 2:23 remaining after being cleared by the UCCS medical staff, and grabbed the defensive rebound with 32 seconds left to set up the potential game-winning possession with the Mountain Lions down 74-72.
An errant pass at the rim for Dalton Patten created a loose ball situation with Patten hanging on the rim to avoid injuring the players below, and when the officials called the play dead to allow Patten to safely return to the ground, Wilford had possession of the ball with 22.0 seconds left. UCCS setup the inbound play underneath its basket, and a three-point shot from Billingsley bounced off the back of the rim and Metro State controlled the rebound. The Roadrunners called the timeout with 3.6 seconds left, and inbounded the ball to Brandon Jefferson who was fouled with 2.3 seconds and made the deciding free throws.
The Mountain Lions finish the 2013-14 season with program records in wins (21), longest winning streak (10 games) and best conference tournament seed (third). UCCS rewrote the record books with the first home playoff game, first playoff win, first conference tournament championship appearance and first NCAA tournament appearance.
Jake Campbell started his final collegiate game and made two steals, while Jordan Carter scored two points and pulled down two rebounds in his final college game. Carter played in his 101st game as a Mountain Lion tonight.