Losses in 2015 set Mountain Lions back in RMAC

Feb. 16, 2015

Brandon Applehans
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All three losses for the men’s basketball team have come in 2015.

In the second half of the season, teams have matched the play of the nationally ranked Mountain Lions.

UCCS faced CSU-Pueblo Feb. 7, where they fell 67-63. Now at 13-3 in conference play, head coach Jeff Culver hesitates to call the season a success.

“I feel like it’s been an up-and-down season for us emotionally,” said Culver. “We hope that we’re poised to make a run here come playoffs. Now is the time where we start playing our best basketball.”

The Mountain Lions are number one in the RMAC in points per game at 89.1. Sophomore guard TreShawn Wilford felt that the team slipped away from their normal game against Pueblo.

“Basically, after the Pueblo game, we have to get back to us,” he said. “We have to get back to scoring at an efficient rate and playing defense. We have to focus on us and not worry about what anyone else is doing.”

Senior guard Tim Billingsley realizes the importance of his final year, and the remaining games.

“When you get to this point, you realize it’s finally coming to an end,” said Billingsley. “You just want to give it everything you have and make an impression on the program. It’s about building a legacy and getting everyone to play up to a level of competition where they are putting their best foot forward.”

With only six games left entering play Feb. 13, UCCS must win out in hopes of hosting the conference tournament.

“Believe it or not, we are very focused on rankings because in order to complete our goals, rankings are the most important part right now,” said Wilford. “A lot of teams say it’s not important, but it is important to be where you want to be. It is essential to our goals.”

“We want to win every game, and we feel that we have the talent to win every game, and when we don’t win every game it’s frustrating,” said Culver. “We also have to realize that with the level of talent in our league, on any given night we could lose to anybody. It’s been a learning process.”

With a variety of scoring options on the court at all times, the focus must be elsewhere according to Culver.

“We’re trying to really get our focus around the little things,” said Culver. “At times when our offense is clicking, it’s easy, like at home in our New Mexico series, where we were scoring the ball very well and I felt our defense started to slack a bit.”

“We definitely feel that our defense is what’s going to win us a game, especially where we want to head this season.”

UCCS faces Metropolitan State, number one in the conference at 15-2, in Denver for the last game of the season on Feb. 28. The Mountain Lions defeated Metro 69-66 on Dec. 12 in the Gallogly Events Center.

Four of the last six games are on the road.

“People say that we always get everybody’s best shot, but we always joke about how everybody always shoots really good at Gallogly,” said Billingsley. “It’s nice going on the road and also it’s going to be a tough environment, which we always want a tough environment for tough games to get us ready for the playoffs.”

UCCS faces Chadron State on Feb. 20 and Black Hills State Feb. 21 in the last two regular season home games. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.