November 30, 2008

Bears Run With Bobcats in Home-Opening Win

BOX SCORE: vs. Texas State

GREELEY, Colo. -- Northern Colorado's men's basketball team knew Texas State was going to bring a run-and-gun style of offense to town on Saturday night inside Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.

And the Bears were able to beat the Bobcats at their own game, lighting up the scoreboard in a 105-93 victory.

Northern Colorado (2-2) shot higher than 60 percent from the field in the game, 65 percent from beyond the three-point stripe and nailed 32 of 38 free throws (84 percent) to net its second 100-plus offensive showing under head coach Tad Boyle.

The Bears are now off until continuing their three-game homestand on Wednesday night, Dec. 3, against the San Diego State Aztecs and coach Steve Fisher.

"We knew we were going to get shots," Boyle said. "The whole key when you're playing a team like that is you've got to be strong with the ball. But what I really liked about our team was really guarded in the first half -- we had them on 26 for a long time -- and we were really able to extend our lead."

Texas State (2-3) came into Saturday night's contest averaging 87.5 points per game this season (13th in the nation), but Northern Colorado was able to hold the Bobcats to just 30 first-half points.

It was just enough to build a lead that would be able to withstand Texas State's second-half three-point onslaught (17 threes) that had them within six at the 3:18 mark in the second half.

The question coming into the game was whether or not Boyle's team would be able to keep up with Texas State's high-flying offense, and the Bears answered that with a resounding, 'Yes.'

Jabril Banks, Will Figures, John Pena and Devon Beitzel all finished in double-figure scoring, and three others (Yahosh Bonner, Jefferson Mason and Chris Kaba) finished with more than seven.

Pena's 17 was his second straight career-high performance.

Still, there were some tense moments there late in the second half.

"I felt confident with our guys," Boyle said. "I just knew we had to keep getting stops. When a team like that gets hot -- they don't average 80-something points by accident. A couple of them were open looks, but some of them were really tough shots as well. I wouldn't say I got nervous there, but I did get real uncomfortable."

The only bit of bad news in this one was the injury suffered by senior starting guard Robert Palacios. He went down with an injury about five minutes into the second half and didn't return.

Palacios has proven to be one of the Bears best all-around players and one of their best defensive players. His absence in the second half was in direct coorelation with the Bobcats' surge.

"Later in the game," Boyle said, "I looked at Coach Hill and said, 'This is where we miss Robert Palacios.' When they were making their run, he's a guy who can really take it upon himself defensively and rebound the basketball and stop those kinds of things. We missed Robert."

The Bears are still awaiting word on the extent of his injury.

"That's my brother," Banks said, "so an injury to him is like an injury to me. And that goes for anybody else on the team. I'm just going to pray for him tonight and hope its not that severe. And even if it is, then we're going to do it for him."