|Posted December 19, 2007|
Pack gets much-needed win with late rally over UCCS
PUEBLO, Colo. - CSU-Pueblo basketball coach Patrick
Eberhart can now fully enjoy his Christmas, without visions of
missed jump shots dancing in his head.
Instead, he can rest well, confident that the ThunderWolves put it together, breaking a bad three-game losing streak against conference-foe UC-Colorado Springs, and bringing a five-game skid to an end with a 69-66 non-conference victory over the Mountain Lions Wednesday night.
The win was claimed thanks to a gritty effort in the final minutes when the game seemed to be getting away from them, as well as a sustained performance by the ThunderWolf players.
The Pack was trailing by four with four minutes remaining by a 60-56 score, despite having forced more turnovers and having shot markedly better than the Mountain Lions. UCCS' advantage was largely due to their performance at the charity stripe, sinking 26 of 32 freebies, compared to just 17 by the Pack.
Instead of coiling in defeat, the Pack showed their fangs and attacked.
Julien Franklin, who had seen no playing time in the Pack's last game and had been shooting cold as of late, immediately buried a three to come within one.
"Ju did a good job bouncing back," Eberhart said of Franklin, who nailed five threes and scored a game high 17 points. "We challenged him and he stepped up."
Just when more UCCS free throws seemed to enlarge the advantage, the Pack got another big three by Franklin, and played for the final minute.
Rome Smith buried two late free throws, giving the ThunderWolves a 69-66 advanatage with 11 seconds remaining, then relied on big defense to secure the win.
The Mountain Lions' leading scorer, Nic Fuller, had the ball for the final shot, but was trapped by Mario Balinton near the UCCS bench, and forced a desperation shot that flew wide.
"Mario is an outstanding defender and he can hang with anybody," Eberhart said. "He took on Fuller and made that a tough shot."
The Pack's big time response came amid several roadblocks. After leading 35-26 at halftime, the ThunderWolves let the Mountain Lions get back in it, going on an 11-2 run and tying the game at 37 just four minutes into the second half.
As was the theme all night long, the Pack addressed the challenge right away. Brian Sewald, who was one point away from a double-double, scoring nine points and taking down a career-high 11 boards, immediately buried a three, and the Pack managed to keep that advantage for much of the half. It wasn't until the four-minute mark that the Mountain Lions were able to wrestle away the lead.
"We had a little lapse in the beginning of the second half," Eberhart said, "but we showed how we're growing as a team, and we responded. We have tried to come together as a team, and we're doing that now."
The win raises the Pack's record to 3-8 on the season, while UCCS falls to 5-5. The Pack closes the 2007 portion of their season, hitting the hardwood again January 3 in a road trip to Nebraska to take on UN-Kearney.