|Posted February 23, 2008|
Seniors go out in style with in over Mustangs
CSU-Pueblo coach Kip Drown showed Saturday that he is not only a good coach, but he's a master of showmanship.
Inside of one minute to go in the game and the win firmly in hand, Drown orchestrated a curtain call for each of his four seniors, Ashleigh Ackerman, Anna Simpson, Kaylon Miller and Lindsay Black, by taking them off the floor one by one, all to the raucous salute of the 1,400-plus ThunderWolf faithful in Massari Arena, capping a poignant 71-52 victory.
In a game that seemed almost meaningless, as the Pack's playoff date as Mesa State was already decided before the tip-off, the night became a coronation for the Pack seniors.
One of those seniors, Black, had an up-and-down night, countering a flat 4-for-19 performance shooting the ball with a key effort defensively, making three blocks, executing four steals and taking down 10 boards for her second double-double in a row. But the bulk of the Pack effort came on the back's on next year's seniors, Michelle Ambuul and Jonnie Draper.
Draper put up 17 while Ambuul scored 13, combining to go 11-for-16 from the field. The collective effort kept the Mustangs from ever making a credible charge for the lead.
"It has been a special weekend and this was the topper," Drown said. "Our seniors got to have a very special and heartfelt night, and I liked that everyone had a final goodbye to our crowd in this arena. They have great character, are good players, and more than anything, are great people."
In the team's final tune-up before Mesa, the team showed that a great ability to take down the board and execute a tenacious transition defense. The ThunderWolves out-boarded the Mustangs 44-38 and made 12 thefts on the night. On the offensive end, the transition offense recorded 20 assists.
"We tried to open up our transition game, because we have 16 girls that can take it coast-to-coast," Drown said. "It allowed us to come out of our motion offense quicker and attack them better."
Now the real test comes in the playoffs. A win over Mesa State, who had defeated the ThunderWolves twice this season, would send the Pack back to Pueblo, as the final four of the RMAC Shootout is slated to take place at the Colorado State Fair Events Center. If the Pack could get back to Pueblo, all bets are off.
"Our mindset is that we're going to Mesa and we will be coming back to Pueblo," Drown said. "If you don't have that attitude, you won't win, and that's how we're approaching it."
The Pack's playoff game at Mesa State will take place in Grand Junction at 7 p.m. Friday.