February 22, 2013
Colorado-Colorado Springs’ women’s basketball team is flat-out having a blast this season.
That was apparent at the Gallogly Events Center on Friday as the Mountain Lions dismantled Chadron State 90-53 to earn their ninth win in 10 games. UCCS (18-5, 15-4 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) dominated virtually every facet against the Eagles (5-19, 4-16) en route to shaking off a two-point road loss to Fort Lewis a week ago.
Freshman guard Gabby Ramirez led four players in double figures with a career-high 24 points and added seven rebounds and five assists. Like the rest of the team, Ramirez is thoroughly enjoying the team’s greatest season in school history.
“I was (feeling it) and was excited,” said the 5-foot-2 Ramirez, who was 6-for-7 from 3-point range. “We love one another and have fun. I just think we have a huge connection.”
The Mountain Lions used a stingy defense and fierce rebounding to build a 15-2 lead to start the game and led 48-22 at the half. UCCS shot 49.2 percent from the field, won the rebounding battle 42-31 and held the Eagles to 4-of-20 shooting from 3-point range.
Third-year coach Corey Laster feels good about this year’s squad.
“I love this group,” Laster said. “There’s very little drama, and they’re a really good academic group. They’re young and like to have fun — so you have to make room for that — and they’re buying in to what we’re doing and are a confident group.
“I’m really happy with their work and their attitude.”
Leading scorer Abby Kirchoff had 13 points, and 6-foot-1 freshman Tori Fisher chipped in 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Starting forward Kellie Krueger had 10 points and six rebounds before leaving the game with a left ankle injury early in the second half and is a question mark for Saturday’s game against Black Hills State.
UCCS entered the night third in the RMAC and is in good position to host a playoff game. The team’s lone senior, Lauren Wolfinger, thinks the Mountain Lions have a chance to turn some heads in this year’s RMAC Tournament, which begins March 5.
“I definitely think that, if we stay focused and hungry, we can make some noise,” said Wolfinger, who would like to coach after graduating. “We do have very good chemistry, which carries over onto the court. We just enjoy everything we do together, to be honest.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to take UCCS to get the respect it deserves in the RMAC, but we know how hard we work and that we deserve everything we’ve gotten.”
In the nightcap, the men’s team shot 73.9 percent from the field in the second half to overcome a 32-24 halftime deficit and complete a season sweep of the Eagles (3-21, 3-17) with a 69-62 victory. Freshman Alex Welch led the way for the Mountain Lions (5-18, 5-14) with 19 points and nine boards. Fellow freshman Derrick White added 17 points.
The rebuilding process for first-year coach Jeff Culver is an ongoing project.
“We’re laying a new foundation,” Culver said. “It’s been a long season with a handful of heartbreaks, and (it’s great) for our guys to be resilient and persistent through it all and still come out and give us a good effort. We have some good, young talent, and we’re just hoping to finish this season as well as we can.”