March 30, 2015
The best season in school history for men’s basketball is now 2014-15.
After defeating Metro State to win the RMAC Championship, UCCS was granted a number four seed in the south central region of the NCAA Tournament, where they would play conference opponent Colorado School of Mines in the first round on March 14.
The regional tournament was hosted by Tarleton State University in Texas.
UCCS defeated Colorado Mines 90-87, as junior guard Derrick White shouldered the offensive production and led his team with 50 points, breaking the UCCS single-game scoring record. He added 14 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and three steals in the first NCAA Tournament win for the program.
According to White, the biggest motivation for him came with 3:34 to play, when the Mountain Lions were down seven points and facing elimination.
“I knew Mines was a tough team, but I was just thinking we had to get stops. I started thinking about the seniors, and I didn’t want the five seniors to go out like this.”
“I knew there was plenty of time left for us, and we’ve been making runs all year long.”
Despite White’s 50 points, one of the biggest shots down the stretch was a 3-pointer that came from senior Tim Billingsley. He had a similar attempt to beat Metro State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season, but missed.
This season, Billingsley made sure the outcome was different.
“You always have to stay ready. I was confident and I kind of fumbled the ball a little there right when I caught it,” Billingsley said. “As soon as it left my hand it felt really good.”
The Mountain Lions then faced host Tarleton State on March 15, who defeated UCCS 84-62 to end the season for UCCS. The Texans shot 53 percent from the field, including 48 percent from the 3-point line.
White, along with junior Alex Welsh, were the only Mountain Lions to score in double figures. At press time, Tarleton was one of the final eight teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament.
White now looks forward to an offseason to get better.
“We got a lot of work to do in the offseason, personally I have a lot of work to do in the offseason in taking my game to the next level.”
“Hopefully we’ll be back with a different result.”