Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-A five-point first quarter proved to be too deep a hole for the UMHB women’s basketball team to overcome on Friday afternoon, as the Cru was defeated 67-58 by Colorado College in its road opener.
Shooting just 13 percent from the field over the first ten minutes, the Crusaders converted on just two of their 15 first-quarter shots, as the Tigers of Colorado College mounted an 18-5 lead entering the second quarter. For as slow of an offensive start as UMHB had, CC had the exact opposite occur, pushing the ball upcourt in transition and connecting on four three-point attempts.
“The biggest thing was we were getting looks at the rim, but just could not finish,” UMHB head coach Mark Morefield said postgame of the challenging start offensively.
The defense was not stellar over the opening ten minutes either, which partially contributed to the Tigers’ early 13-point advantage, which was widened to 15 points before an Areiona Rosborough layup at the 1:46 mark. Rosborough’s first points of the day broke a five-minute scoring drought, and from that point on, UMHB played like a different team. The Crusaders outscored their opponents in both the second quarter and fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to eighth points, 32-24, at halftime on Meagan Johnson’s layup.
But the Cru was unable to get much closer to taking the lead, no doubt challenged by the high altitude. On one side of Reid Arena, Colorado College’s home court, a sign, daunting for visiting teams from outside the region, reads, “Welcome to 6,035 feet! Breathe deeply”. With CC pushing the ball in transition, UMHB had little time to rest, and as Morefield noted, it “takes a game to adjust” to the climate.
Defensively, Morefield also saw room for improvement. Kaitlyn Kollmorgen was strong on the boards, with a team-high seven rebounds, though the Cru lost the team rebounding battle to CC, 51-42. The Tigers’ 40 percent from three-point range was not a statistic Morefield was pleased with, though it is certainly something he expects to see improvement on in Saturday’s contest against Nebraska Wesleyan.
“Defensively we were very bad,” Morefield said postgame. “Very out of sorts and not executing. The three-point shooting is a double edged sword. Statistically, [CC] shot better than they have in their first three games and all of last year. Sometimes that happens. On the other side, our players need to recognize sooner that if someone gets going, we need to get up and guard them better.”
For as challenging as the contest was, getting the early season experience of facing teams of CC’s caliber is a benefit for the Cru, who open conference play against Ozarks next week. The post play from Morefield’s team was solid, especially in the second half. All six of Kollmorgen’s points came over the final two quarters, and both Johnson and freshman Aja Holmes had success throughout the game on both ends of the floor. Holmes tallied two points, a block, a steal and three rebounds, while Johnson added two points, a rebound and played consent defense.
The second half began with a 6-2 run from the Cru, as two free throws from McLeod, and midrange jumpers from Kollmorgen and Cheyanne Bonilla cut the lead to 34-30. However, CC’s Healy Bledsoe converted on a three-pointer just 10 seconds after Bonilla narrowed the margin to four points, and within two minutes, the Tigers had regained a double-digit lead.
Bonilla led the Cru in scoring, with 10 points. McLeod contributed with eight points, as well as a team-high four steals and guard Jacqueline Cilliers recorded two blocks.
UMHB tips off at noon mountain time tomorrow, facing Nebraska Wesleyan in its second game at the Rocky Mountain Thanksgiving Classic. The Crusaders are now 1-2 on the season, and Nebraska Wesleyan is 2-2, having lost to Hardin-Simmons 69-49 on Friday.