Feb. 16, 2015

Brandon Applehans
bappleha@uccs.edu

The second half of the season has been a rollercoaster for the women’s basketball team.

A one-point victory over Black Hills State on Jan. 23 marked an eight-game winning streak, but the streak was snapped the next night as UCCS fell to Chadron State by two.

UCCS then swept both New Mexico teams (Highlands and Western) for the second time this year Jan. 30-31, but an altercation would leave UCCS without a key player.

Against Highlands, sophomore forward Brittany Hernandez was involved in an on-court altercation. Multiple opposing players, along with Hernandez, were issued ejections and a one-game suspension. Hernandez, the second leading scorer for the Mountain Lions, would miss the following game at CSU-Pueblo.

“I hated sitting out against Pueblo,” said Hernandez. “I made a choice and I had to live with my consequences. I definitely can’t let my emotions get the better of me.”

The Mountain Lions showed a need for Hernandez, as a 20-point deficit at halftime resulted in a 74-68 loss to the ThunderWolves on Feb. 7. Head coach Shawn Nelson took the positives away from the game.

“I felt that in the last 17 minutes of the game, when we actually started playing our style, I thought it was one of the best halves of basketball we’ve played all year,” said Nelson.

“I’m still confused as to why we came out so flat.”

“I know we are a better basketball team than Pueblo,” he added. “I know they played well, but I just don’t think we were ready.”

Junior guard Gabby Ramirez knew the challenges of facing the ThunderWolves without their leading rebounder.

“Brittany is a really big part of our team, so we knew going into Pueblo that everyone had to step up,” she said. “I think everyone did great.”

UCCS will likely battle with Colorado Mesa to host the RMAC Championship.

“It’s so hard at this time of the year because everybody is looking forward to the end, not in a bad way, it’s just that some teams would like it to be over and we just want to see where we finish up,” said Nelson. “We started looking ahead, counting down games until playoffs, but we honestly just focus on one game at a time.”

“We really want to host [the playoffs],” said Ramirez. “It is our main goal to win these last couple games. If we win out, we will be above Mesa. These games are desperate games because we want to host.”

The added motivation of home games will help the Mountain Lions while on the road for four of the last six regular season games, said Nelson.

“When we play at Gallogly, the crowds have been awesome,” he said. “It’s always an added push. Now when we go on the road, it’s a challenge.”

“We want to go in there and win on their floor. A lot of teams are in desperate situations. If you look at the middle pack of the standings, if one team has a bad weekend, they can drop out of the playoffs.”

Ramirez sees the need for the bench to step up while on the road.

“We are our own crowd and I think the bench really feeds off of everything,” said Ramirez. “If the bench is hyped, we’re hyped and that’s all we need is each other.”

UCCS hosts Chadron State Feb. 20 and Black Hills State Feb. 21 for the last two home games of the regular season. Tip-off for both games is 5:30 p.m.