DENVER, Colorado (November 10, 2017) – Lubbock Christian University men's basketball opened up their 2017-2018 campaign in the annual Rocky Mountain/Heartland Conference Crossover Challenge Friday afternoon at Regis Fieldhouse, and despite a mammoth second half performance, the Chaparrals ultimately fell to No.9 Colorado School of Mines 82-78 in a game that went down to the wire. Junior Brennen Fowler led Lubbock Christian with 23 points, nine rebounds and three assists in the season-opener.
Fowler opened up the scoring for LCU with an early layup. Despite his efforts, Colorado Mines came screaming back on a 14-2 run to take a 14-4 lead over the Chaps at the 16:09 mark of the opening period. CSM began to fall into a rhythm that disallowed the Chaparrals to pull any closer than a 10-point margin until a layup by Fowler cut the Oredigger's lead to eight with 7:01 left in the half. However, a pair of free throws and a layup by the Mines offense opened their lead back to 12 (30-18) with just under six minutes to play. Junior Isaac Asrat followed scoring LCU's next 10 points to cut the Chap deficit to 37-28 at the 1:14 mark. Fowler knocked down an old-fashioned three-point play, but Colorado Mines ultimately scored the last bucket of the half on a layup by Zach Rusk to give the Orediggers a 39-31 lead at the break.
Lubbock Christian was led in the opening period by some sharp shooting from Asrat who went 4-of-10 from the field and 3-of-5 from downtown for 15 first-half points. As a team, the Chaparrals shot 39.3% (11-of-28) from the field and 4-of-7 (57.1%) from beyond the arc. Fowler led the charge on the boards with five of LCU's 19 rebounds for the half.
Luke Schroepfer led the Orediggers in the period with 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting and a pair of three-pointers. Overall, Colorado Mines drained five shots from beyond the arc and 15-of-32 field goals for a 46.9% shooting average. Schroepfer and Rusk combined for all four of CSM's free throws in the half to give their team a perfect mark from the stripe.
Once again, Fowler struck first in the second half with an early layup to narrow the Colorado Mines lead to six points. Schroepfer then scored seven of the Orediggers next nine points to take a 48-35 lead over LCU with 17:05 left to play. Senior Marcos Schuster then answered with his first three-pointer of the game for the Chaps. CSM continued to press on the offensive end and jumped to a 55-40 lead with 15:02 on the clock for their largest lead of the game. LCU's Jay Workman came back with a layup that sparked a 13-6 run for the Chaparrals that was capped off at the 11:39 mark with a Ja'Qualyn Gilbreath trey. Colorado Mines jumped to their final double-digit lead after a layup by Adam Laine, placing the score at 65-54 in favor of the Orediggers. Schuster once again struck from long-range initiating a 9-2 run for the Chaparrals that ended after a layup by Workman with 8:10 left in the contest. The squads then began trading points before Gilbreath knocked down a bucket inside the paint to cut the Orediggers lead to 73-72 with just over four minutes to play. Workman capitalized on a fast break lay-in at the 2:25 mark to regain the lead for LCU at 76-75. The advantage was short lived, as Ben Clare converted from short range to return the lead to CSM with 1:34 on the clock. Ben Sonnefield wrapped a bow on the game for Colorado Mines with a last second free throw for a final score of 82-78 for the Orediggers.
The Chaparrals outscored Colorado Mines 47-42 in the period on 17-of-32 shooting (53.1%) from the field. Schuster, Gilbreath and Asrat combined for all five of LCU's three-pointers in the final half. Schuster sank four second-half free throws to help Lubbock Christian to an 8-for-10 free throw effort in the period. Fowler led the Chaps with 6-of-9 from the field and a pair of free throws for 14 points in the half. LCU also outrebounded the Orediggers 15-13 in the second period.
Colorado Mines had four players in double-figures, but were led by Schroepfer and Clare who posted 17 points each. As a squad, the Orediggers shot 50.9% (29-of-57) from the field and 6-of-12 from downtown. CSM's 14 second half free throws pushed the team to 18-for-21 (85.7%) from the charity stripe for the day.
After a slow opening period, LCU found their footing and knocked down 28-of-60 (46.7%) from the field and nine three-pointers, in the game, for a 47.4% (9-of-19) mark. Fowler recorded a game-high 23-point performance, but was just one of four Chaps to score in double figures with Asrat (18 points), Schuster (14 points) and Gilbreath (13 points) also doing their diligence on the offensive end. The Chaps registered 38 points inside the paint, 18 points off of turnovers and 13 points from the bench.
Lubbock Christian falls to 0-1 on the season, but will have the opportunity to rebound with their final match of the Rocky Mountain/Heartland Conference Crossover Challenge Saturday afternoon against host Regis University. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:30 (central) inside Regis Fieldhouse in Denver, Colo.