Foul Trouble Hinders Men In Casper
CASPER, Wyo. -- So much for history.
Northern Colorado men's basketball had a chance Saturday afternoon against Wyoming to finish off the finest ever 10-game start in school history.
The Bears were called for a season-most 31 fouls in the 76-70 loss, however, and shot a season-worst 56 percent from the free-throw line in falling to the Cowboys in the 28th playing of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Wyoming Shootout at the Casper Events Center.
Northern Colorado (8-2, 1-1 Big Sky) could have started a season 9-1 for the first time in 108 seasons with a win against Wyoming (5-4).
Poor shooting, execution and foul trouble torpedoed that opportunity.
Senior Yahosh Bonner, for example, went scoreless for the first time this season and fouled out with nearly five minutes to go in the game. This after scoring a career-high 19 points in the Bears' impressive road victory last Saturday at Montana.
However, Bonner was not the only Bear to find himself in foul trouble in the first half, as six others spent significant time on the bench saddled with fouls.
Foul shooting was clearly the difference in the game, as the ‘Pokes outshot the Bears from the line by 25. Northern Colorado shot just 30 percent (3-10) from the stripe in the second half, while Wyoming made 17 (17-23).
Northern Colorado Head Coach Tad Boyle, in a postgame interview with 1310 KFKA, was clearly disappointed with his team's performance at the free-throw line:
"The name of the game tonight was free-throws. (You) have to make free-throws on the road if you want to give yourself a chance, we just didn't get to the line enough in the second half."
Junior guard Devon Beitzel poured in a game-high 25 points while knocking down five shots from three-point range. He also swiped a career-high five steals and tied a career high with six rebounds and dished out four assists in an impressive box score.
After trailing by as many as ten points in the second half, Northern Colorado cut the Cowboys' lead to two with a little more than eight minutes remaining. That is as close as the Bears would come though, as Wyoming quickly went on a 4-0 run to stretch the lead back to six.
"Devon and Will (Figures) are both guys capable of getting hot (and) changing the game with the three," said Boyle when asked about the improved second-half shooting from outside.
Wyoming's Adam Waddell put in 13 points and was one rebound shy of recording a double-double. Afam Muojeke chipped in with a team-high 15 points, including 11 free throws.
Boyle was also critical of the Bears' inside play, saying, "They outplayed us tonight. Inside they manhandled us. We haven't been intimidated in the past, so I don't expect that to happen again."
Northern Colorado will look to bounce back from it strip to Casper next Wednesday with a home game against Louisiana-Monroe. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.