The Colorado-Colorado Springs Mountain Lions were looking for relief Friday night at the Wilson Complex, but host New Mexico Highlands wasn’t providing any.
The Cowboys (4-4 overall, 2-3 RMAC going into Saturday’s game vs. Colorado State-Pueblo) held on for a 77-71 verdict, getting back to the .500 mark while keeping UCCS winless at 0-9 and 0-5 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play.
Stargell Love had six assists and six rebounds to go with 18 points, all team highs, for NMHU. He made eight baskets in 13 tries.
Mannie Cass (15 points, six boards, three blocks) and Augustus French (10 points, four boards) joined Love in double figures.
The Cowboys held the Mountain Lions to 35 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers, although the visitors made 24 of 33 free throws to offset their disadvantages.
Derrick White (21 points, seven rebounds) was one of four UCCS players in double figures and the only one to shoot better than 50 percent from the floor.
Highlands led just 34-33 at halftime, and it remained tightly contested throughout, although the Cowboys made a modest run to lead by nine, 60-51, after Dominick Baca’s three-pointer with 8:14 left.
Springs took the lead a couple times after that, though, and a pair of foul shots by Darius Pardner made it 66-65 Lions at the 3:55 mark. Then Lionel Coleman scored on a putback and the Cowboys never trailed again.
UCCS 96, Cowgirls 92
Highlands’ frenzied second-half rally wasn’t quite enough to make up for a huge first half by the Cowgirls’ opponents.
Colorado-Colorado Springs threatened to melt the Meadow City’s recently acquired ice with its scorching 63 percent shooting in the first half Friday.
The Mountain Lions sank seven three-pointers in the first 20 minutes alone and went 20 for 32 in the period as they raced to a 56-34 lead.
In the second half, the Cowgirls got hot, making 61 percent of their shots overall, although their struggles from long range continued.
Highlands managed to shrink the margin to three when China Smith stole the ball and laid it in to make it 89-86 with 1:16 to go.
But Sam Patterson answered with an old-school three-point play.
Patterson tallied 28 points and four assists to lead the Lions; Abby Kirchoff had 20 points, six rebounds and five assists, and Gabby Ramirez and Jeri Pikul added a dozen points apiece.
For the home team, Alyssa Lopez posted another strong night with 20 points on 6-for-12 shooting with nine rebounds and five assists. Indre Mikelaenaite had 18 points off the bench, and Haley Grossman and Kate Cryderman added 14 each.
The Cowgirls dropped to 3-6 overall and 3-2 in the league going into Saturday, while UCCS moved to 6-2 and 4-1.