Mountain Lion men take down Colorado Mesa to advance to semifinal

March 3, 2015

Jonathan Toman
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Reilly Flood | The Scribe
It was a tale of two halves for Derrick White and Alex Welsh.

The duo combined to help the Mountain Lions (23-5, 17-5 RMAC) defeat Colorado Mesa (19-9, 14-8 RMAC) 82-71 in the quarterfinal round of the RMAC Shootout. UCCS will play Adams State, who upset Colorado Mines, on March 6 in the semifinals.

It was a bit of revenge for UCCS, whose only home loss this season came at the hands of Mesa 100-92 on Jan. 10. That loss ended their 14-game winning streak to begin the season.

“We had a lot of emotion, we remembered what it felt like,” said Welsh. “It was a stingy loss when they handed it to us. That was a heartbreaker and we didn’t forget it.”

In that Jan. 10 game, Mesa forward Ryan Stephan had 40 points. Tonight he had 21.

“He’s the best offensive big in the RMAC,” said head coach Jeff Culver. “We wanted to take away his open three’s, we did a great job of toughing it out and making him work for everything.”

Mesa led 36-34 at halftime. Welsh led UCCS with 15 points, while White had 3.

Then things changed, and White tallied 23 points in the second half.

“Teams will key in on Derrick,” said Culver. “He was able to distribute the ball well in the first half and everyone including Welsh reaped the benefits.”

Reilly Flood | The Scribe
“Our chemistry just gets that much better when we have to find each other,” said Welsh.

The team came off a one-point loss to Metro State on Feb. 28 to complete the regular season, a game Culver felt prepared the team for the game against Mesa.

“That was a good playoff tempo, and we were able to retain that tonight.”