Coach gave his best Knute Rockne "pull yourselves up by the bootstraps speech" at halftime, so the Skyhawks pulled themselves up their bootstraps."He just told us to play harder," Fort Lewis College senior Ryan Jameson said. "Everyone in the stands could see that.
"They were killing us. We weren't D'ing up enough, pushing out enough, and with a team like that, a team with good shooters, if you give them good looks then they're going to make their shots."
UC-Colorado Springs (2-10 overall, 2-2 RMAC) made 43 percent of their shots in the first half, including seven 3-pointers.
Fort Lewis (13-3 overall, 4-1 RMAC) made 28 percent of its shots, including just one lonely 3-pointer.
"They made a couple of really tough shots," Skyhawks coach Bob Hofman said.
"Really, they could've been up by 12 or 14 at the half," he said.
Instead, UCCS led by eight at intermission.
The second act was Fort Lewis' virtuosi, a second half in which the Skyhawks outscored their opponent 61-34 to claim a 94-75 comeback victory Friday night at Whalen Gymnasium.
"I thought the second half we played with a little less frustration," Hofman said.
The frustration mounted early.
Fort Lewis missed shots, and UCCS did not.
Scott Sublousky started a 16-2 run at the 11-minute mark of the first half with the first of four 3s in the gap. Nick Weaver followed with a 3, Tommy Klausner scored in the paint, Weaver hit another 3, and Frank McCollum scored five unanswered points with a fadeaway jumper and a 3 from the wing.
UCCS led 25-18 with 7½ to play in the half.
The frustration mounted slowly.
Fort Lewis missed shots, and UCCS did not.
Besides a field goal and a free throw from the Skyhawks' Kirk Archibeque, UCCS continued to gap Fort Lewis with a 10-3 run.
Weaver hit a pair of free throws, McCollum a pull-up jumper then Weaver a pair of dramatic 3s.
The first: Weaver took a handoff from McCollum near the sideline about 25 feet from the rim. McCollum stopped, bent over to tie his laces, then Weaver pulled up and hit a deep 25-foot 3-pointer to give the Mountain Lions a 32-20 lead.
The second: DeAndre Lansdowne, in a successful attempt to save a loose ball, climbed about six rows of bleachers at full speed. He saved it, however, to the wrong team. Hustling back into the play, he stopped just past midcourt after he witnessed teammate Jordan Brooks' theft. Brooks simply lobbed the ball down court for Lansdowne, but the specialist mistimed his steps and missed the dunk.
Weaver answered with a 3 in transition and a 35-20 lead.
Fort Lewis salvaged the half with a 12-6 run over the final 3½ minutes to pull within eight, 41-33.
"In the second half we went to a zone offense, and that was a little more effective," Hofman said. "We were able to isolate Kirk in the post, and he hit some big shots."
Archibeque hit the decisive lead-changing shot in spectacular fashion just 3½ minutes into the second half.
Jameson left his feet for a 3-point attempt from the wing, then changed his mind and dumped the ball down low to Archibeque. Caught slightly off guard, Archibeque bobbled the ball, maintained possession, then turned baseline for his shot.
He was tugged on by four hands, but somehow the 6-foot-9, 255-pound center muscled the basketball off the glass and in. He converted the free throw and the three-point play, and Fort Lewis led 48-47, a lead it would not relinquish.
"We came out and played defense," Archibeque said of the Skyhawks' tale of two halves. "We're still not where we need to be on defense ...
When they are, though, "we're going to be real tough," he said.
Archibeque had a team-high 21 points and game-high 16 rebounds - nine on the offensive glass.
"They did a good job," he said of the Lions' defense. "As soon as I caught the ball, I had three people around me.
"Ryan Jameson had a great game. Whenever I got in trouble, I just kicked it out, and he was money."
Jameson finished with 18 points and a pair of second-half 3s. He also had four assists and a steal in the second half that led to an additional 12 points.
"I just decided to run around a lot, and things started going in," he said. "When you get that feeling, you have to take advantage of it."
Fort Lewis made 56 percent of its shots in the second half, including four 3-pointers.
UCCS made 37 percent of its shots, including just a pair of lonely 3-pointers.
Not even Lansdowne's poster dunk on Alex Snyder with 2 minutes to play could change Hofman's outlook on the overall product, however.
"I thought it was an ugly game all the way through," he said.