The UCCS men’s basketball team began back-to-back home games with a large conference win over Black Hills State University on Feb. 11. They followed up on Feb. 12 with a more tightly contested win against Chadron State College and improved their season record to 17-7.
Black Hills State vs. UCCS
The game began with an early 18-10 Black Hills State Yellow Jackets lead due to UCCS shooting woes and the Yellow Jackets getting to the basket. However, UCCS kept themselves in the match with key offensive rebounds and steals.
Now down two points, UCCS’s defense went into a full-court 2-2-1 zone press, propelling a 13-2 run to end the first half. The Mountain Lions’ on-ball man defense was too much for the Yellow Jackets to handle, leaving the score at 36-27 after one half.
UCCS came out firing from all cylinders at the start of the second half. After a few minutes of play, the Mountain Lions extended their lead to 45-31. Black Hills State attempted a run with a seven-point swing, resulting in head coach Jeff Culver using a timeout at the 16-minute mark.
Black Hills State came out in a 2-3 zone defense out of the timeout. UCCS immediately took advantage of this change. After this point in the game, it was all UCCS as they shot lights out from the field and from three, continuing to play incredible defense. With 11:22 left in the game, the Mountain Lions led 62-42.
UCCS’ shooting did not relent in the second half, denying any attempt by the Yellow Jackets to get back in the game. After trading some more buckets, the game was now at 73-49, UCCS leading by 24 points. With 6:47 left to play, the two head coaches subbed in their reserves, effectively calling the game for the Mountain Lions then.
UCCS took the win over Black Hills State 92-63.
Junior guard Jon’il Fugett led all scorers with 19 points and led UCCS with three makes from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Alijah Comithier had an impressive night with 16 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. Freshman guard Jezza McKenzie and redshirt junior Cameron Underwood had 17 and 14 points respectively.
In addition, UCCS’ strong defensive performance forced 20 turnovers and stole the ball 17 times.
Chadron State vs. UCCS
The next night, UCCS men’s basketball faced the visiting Chadron State College Eagles.
Fugett began the scoring for both teams with a corner three-pointer in transition. This shot initiated a long first half with both teams struggling to take a considerable lead.
Sophomore forward Devin Smith dunked in traffic off a pass from Underwood to tie the game at 17 apiece. The half ended with a 37-35 lead for the Eagles.
Having begun with a zone defense in the first half, UCCS came out in a straight man-to-man defense to start the second half. The game continued with both teams trading buckets every possession.
UCCS then went on a 22-2 run that began with Comithier’s drive to the basket for two points. McKenzie and sophomore William Becker contributed significantly to this run. Fugett finished the run with a crossover and finger-roll finish with three defenders around him.
Comithier caught an alley-oop from senior Geoff Kelly for an easy lay-in following the run. On the next defensive possession, Comithier read a lazy pass and took it from coast to coast for a two-hand dunk.
With 3:45 left in the game, UCCS had a commanding lead of 82-59. They finished with a score of 87-68.
Comithier led all scorers with 24 points in the game. McKenzie also had a noteworthy scoring performance, finishing with 17 points two games in a row. Fugett, sophomore forward Wyatt Dolberry and freshman forward Mac Stodart contributed to the game with 14 points apiece.
The Mountain Lions played Colorado Christian and MSU Denver on the road on Feb. 18 and 19.