January 18, 2009

Bears shoot historical low in loss to Vikings

BOX SCORE: vs. Portland State

GREELEY, Colo. -- The good news for Northern Colorado is it held high-scoring Portland State to a season-low 57 points Sunday afternoon inside Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.

The bad news? Well, the Bears scored a season-low, too, in their 57-43 Big Sky Conference "Game of the Week" loss.

Those 43 points are the fewest a Northern Colorado men's basketball team has scored in a conference game since losing to Idaho State 72-40 on Jan. 18, 1958 -- exactly 51 years ago.

The Bears and the Bengals now both play in the Big Sky Conference, but that game in 1958 came when both schools were members of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. And further, Northern Colorado wasn't even called Northern Colorado back then. It went by Colorado State College instead.

So, yeah, Sunday afternoon held all kinds of bad news for Tad Boyle's ballclub.

The main culprit for the Bears' offensive woes was its season-low 27 percent field-goal shooting in the game.

"It's hard to beat anybody when you shoot that kind of percentage," Boyle said. "But the disappointing thing to me was the lack of energy and life in our team today. We had a great opportunity -- we had a chance to get our fourth Big Sky win and hold serve at home. But we didn't get it done."

Neal Kingman led Northern Colorado with 14 points, including 11 in the first half, but no other Bear was able to break the double-digit scoring column.

Jabril Banks came off the bench for the third straight game and scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds, but he, like most of the Northern Colorado players in this one, just couldn't get anything going consistently.

The Bears (7-12, 3-3 Big Sky) were down just one, 27-26, at half, but 17 second-half points hurt its chances of pulling even with Portland State (14-5, 5-1) in the Big Sky standings.

"We just couldn't hit a shot," Banks said. "We played good enough defense to win the game today, but we just couldn't buy a shot. All due respect to (the Vikings') defense, we just couldn't hit a shot today."

So, the Bears finish up this three-game homestand 2-1 and will now embark on a four-game conference road swing, starting with a game against Montana State at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, in Bozeman. Northern Colorado is 5-3 at home this season, but just 2-9 away from Butler-Hancock.

Boyle doesn't take a whole lot of stock in that, though.

"The way I look at it is: We play 16 conference games every year. Eight here, eight away," Boyle said. "We've just got to go and play games and finish them out, regardless of what gym we're in."

NOTES: Portland State is now 9-0 all-time against Northern Colorado... The Vikings are 5-0 against the Bears since Northern Colorado joined the Big Sky Conference... True freshman Mike Proctor started for the third straight game... Portland State's Jeremiah Dominguez, the reigning Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year and MVP, scored just five points Sunday... In his three games against Northern Colorado, Dominguez has scored in single digits twice.