Updated: January 17, 2014 at 11:24 pm
A lack of intensity proved to be the biggest opponent for both Mountain Lions teams Friday.
The University of Coloradoat Colorado Springs hosted Colorado School of Mines for men's and women's Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference action.
While the Mountain Lions women (5-9, 4-6) kept close to the Orediggers (3-7, 4-10), they fell by a 55-54 nailbiter. The men's team (9-5, 6-4) fell into trouble early and trailed Mines (13-1, 9-1) for most of the night, leading up to a 77-54 loss to the Mountain Lions.
While the Mountain Lions' defense remained tough, the offense lacked the same intensity, coach Corey Laster said.
"At this level, you need to be able to read defenses and 'see,'" Laster said. "Our offensive execution would walk through things, and we really didn't deserve it."
After falling behind midway through the first half, the Mountain Lions' closed the gap to one point with eight minutes remaining.
UCCS junior Sam Patterson, formerly of Peyton High School, and junior guard Abby Kirchoff helped keep the score close at halftime.
"Defensively, when we are down, we are playing hard," Laster said. "We don't get that effort at all on the offensive end, at all."
Sophomore Gabby Ramirez soon followed with an outside bucket to gain a 36-35 Mountain Lions lead.
Over the next 10 minutes, however, the Mountain Lions fell behind by seven and had trouble breaking Mines' lead going into the final three minutes.
In the final eight seconds and down by one, UCCS found Jeri Pikul outside the arc for a try at a game-winner at the buzzer, but the shot didn't drop, and Mines walked away with the win 55-54.
Kirchoff finished with 24 points, three streals and five rebounds.
"We're stagnant on offense," Kirchoff said. "We don't move. We don't cut hard. And anyone can see, when they watch us press, we know how to move and trap. We just have to convert it offensively. We need to change something obviously."
Against the No. 13 Colorado School of Mines, UCCS ran into turnover trouble which led to a 12-point deficit after the opening 10 minutes. Mines' offense has four shooters averaging more than 13 points per game.
"We didn't do to well in the first half, but we were able to put up a run going into halftime and into the second period," UCCS coach Jeff Culver said. "We have to get our collective confidence against the upper tier teams of the RMAC."
The Mountain Lions crashed the boards better on the defensive end, helping sophomore guard Derrick White's 14 points in the first period have a bigger impact. Coupled with freshman guard TreShawn Wilford's nine points, UCCS clawed back to only being down seven points at the half 36-29.
White said the Lions started to attack the basket better.
"We got more stops and played harder," he said.
Culver wished that effort carried over to the second half, but the Mountain Lions' intensity "lacked through all aspects of the game." Culver said.
"At least we can hang our hats on that (first-half run) and hopefully build off it," he said.