UCCS men’s basketball headed down to Las Vegas, New Mexico this week to take on the N.M. Highlands Cowboys in another close matchup that would come down to the final minutes. The UCCS Mountain Lions came through in the end taking a tight 82-78 win on the road.
Both teams came out fast, exchanging baskets right out of the gate. Freshman forward Mac Stodart got UCCS going early with a driving layup followed by a three pointer from freshman guard Jezza McKenzie.
The Cowboys continued to go back and forth, pushing the game in their favor with four trips to the free throw line, taking a 14-12 lead with just over 11 minutes left in the first half.
UCCS showed off their skills from deep as junior guard Jon’il Fugett drained two threes to take back the lead, 24-22. This did not last long, however, as NMHU continued to pound the ball in the paint and kept racking up points to go into the half with a 34-32 lead.
Coming out of the half, the fast-paced battle continued with the game being tied 10 times. UCCS started quickly, going on a 7-0 run led by a layup from sophomore guard Alijah Comithier.
The Mountain Lions continued to keep the pressure on going into the final minutes with the game tied 73-73. Becker gave the team the last-minute spark they needed, grabbing a rebound and putting it back for two to give UCCS the lead and never look back.
The team carried that spark into their next matchup in South Dakota to take on the Hardockers, where they powered through to grab their fifth straight win 69-61.
The game started out slow between both teams with only four points on the board at the end of four minutes. That slow start didn’t last long as Stodart, redshirt sophomore guard Bobby Martin and redshirt sophomore forward William Becker drained three in a row from beyond the arc.
Taking an 11-9 lead, the Mountain Lions continued to push forward with the Hardrockers pushing back just as hard. There were 11 lead changes throughout just the first half.
Coming out of the half it was all UCCS with a couple of layups and free throws giving them a 42-36 lead. South Dakota Mines continued to fight and kept themselves in the game, tying it at 48-48 with 10 minutes left.
Going into the final minutes, both teams continued to exchange baskets and take the lead. With a little under five minutes left in the game, the Mountain Lions turned it up a notch going on a 12-4 run lead by eight points from Comithier that was followed by a massive block from Becker to hold the 69-61 lead and get the win.
The team will continue their long road trip, heading to Western Colorado next weekend to take on Western Colorado University and Fort Lewis College.