The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs women’s basketball team trailed by 10 with less than 7 minutes remaining against defending champion and fifth-ranked Emporia State on Saturday in the Marriott Mountain Lion Thanksgiving Invitational.
The winless Mountain Lions could have rolled over in the face of such a stiff challenge. Instead, they roared off a rally down the stretch to pull off a 70-67 upset at the Gallogly Events Center, where the UCCS men later won their home opener.
Jessica Brown hit a runner down the lane with 31.4 seconds left to put the Mountain Lions (1-3) up 68-67, and twin sister Danielle hit two free throws to seal it with 8.7 seconds remaining.
It was the first victory for new coach Corey Laster and the program’s first win over a top-10 team.
“Unexpected and very big for a young program in a lot of ways,” Laster said. “If you can’t gain confidence from this I don’t know where you can gain confidence from.”
In the night game, the men overcame a strong challenge from NAIA Bethany College, holding off the Swedes 93-90.
The UCCS women cut the 10-point deficit in half at 65-60 when Jessica Brown hit two free throws with 3:01 remaining.
UCCS guard Lauren Wolfinger then yanked a rebound out of Alli Volkens’ hands, rushed up court and pulled up to hit her fifth 3-pointer of the game, dropping the lead to 65-63. Wolfinger finished with a game-high and career-high 24 points.
“A great accomplishment personally, but I think when your number’s called that’s when it happens,” Wolfinger said. “It might be another teammate’s time next weekend and I might have zero points. But getting the win is the most important thing.”
The Mountain Lions were outrebounded 55-32, but countered by forcing Emporia (3-1) into 17 turnovers.
“Recently if we’ve gotten steals we’ve gone and turned it over,” Wolfinger said. “I think a big thing (in this game) was we got turnovers and we got points off those turnovers.”
The Mountain Lions held their own in the first half, leading six times. Wolfinger scored 10 of her 12 first-half points in the last 3:25, and UCCS headed to the locker rooms trailing 33-30.
In the men's game, Brent Jones scored a game-high 26 points and point guard Damar Hill set a school record with 13 assists.
Jones’ three-point play with 1:02 left put the Mountain Lions (2-2) ahead for good in a back-and-forth affair.
“Our offense came alive for the first time this year,” Jones said. “We clicked in transition, found easy buckets, found open shooters and it was just a lot easier, simpler game.”