November 12, 2010

Men's basketball begins Hill Era with a lopsided win

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GREELEY -- There were some moments Friday night against Tabor College that Northern Colorado looked like a team playing its first true contest of the season.

Some times that new head coach B.J. Hill would probably like to forget.

There were some other moments, though, when the Bears looked crisp and two or three steps ahead of their NAIA foes in a lopsided 93-52 victory at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion that was Hill's first career win as a head coach.

First, the good.

Northern Colorado had five players score in double figures, including senior Devon Beitzel's game-high 17, sophomore point guard Elliott Lloyd's 16 and junior Mike Proctor's 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bears also held a 32-4 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the first half after keeping the Bluejays out of the scoring column for more than 12 minutes.

The bad? How about letting that same team that scored just 13 points total in the first 20 minutes to sizzle the nets at a 54 percent clip in the second half and then missing nine free throws on the night (22-31) after ranking 20th in the country in free-throw percentage last season.

Those are all things that will have to get cleaned up before Northern Colorado's next game, a Tuesday night contest against the Wyoming Cowboys, who defeated the Bears 76-70 last season.

"It's my first win, and I'm never going to complain about those," Hill said, "but there were obviously a lot of things we did tonight that we can't do next week and can't do on down the road. It's human nature to let up a little bit when you're up by as much as we were there in the first half, but we've got to be more mature than that and lean on our seniors in those situations.

"We did some good things -- there were a couple possessions where we looked about as good as I've seen us look all preseason -- but we were sloppy a little bit throughout and didn't play with our hair on fire, like I would have expected."

Tabor actually scored the first points of the game, on a bucket from Phillip Jimenez in the first minute of the game, but then put just two more points on the board until there were just more than four minutes remaining before halftime.

In between, Northern Colorado went on a 32-2 run that set the tone for the game and helped it win a home-opener for the fourth straight year and improve to 24-6 at home over the last three seasons.

Lloyd scored 13 of his total in that first half, and Proctor and true-freshman Paul Garnica (10 points) did all their damage before the break.

Hill started to put his deep-bench players into the game with about six minutes to go and with his team up 82-39.

"Wyoming is going to be an entirely different animal on Tuesday night," Hill said. "We need to bottle what we did in the first half and keep that going until the final whistle. I'm glad we got started on the right foot, and I'm as happy as can be to get that first victory out of the way."