December 4, 2010

Men's basketball makes quick work of Black Hills State

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Box score | NC season stats | B.J. Hill KFKA postgame

GREELEY -- Xzaivier James, Lee Hall, Mike Bedford, Dave Arnold and Kevin Hanes were the last Bears on the floor Saturday night in Northern Colorado's 84-52 victory against Black Hills State.

That quintet in the game almost always means good things for the Bears -- somewhat of the cork pop on a satisfying victory.

And that was the case against the NAIA Division II Yellow Jackets (10-2) at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.

Devon Beitzel scored a game-high 18 points for Northern Colorado (4-3) in the lopsided win, and Neal Kingman added 14, including two on an ally-oop dunk with just under four minutes to play that put the Bears up 78-51 and served as the green light for coach B.J. Hill to reward some of his deep-bench guys.

And, in a testament to what Hill called a great week of practice leading up to Saturday night, James, Hall, Bedford, Arnold and Hanes picked up right where the frontline guys left off.

Northern Colorado held Black Hills State without a field goal for the final six minutes of the game Saturday, including the final three-plus minutes, when Hill dished out his reward minutes.

"Where we are with our rotations and our injuries right now," Hill said, "we need a total team effort -- in practice, in pregame, on gameday. We had a great week in practice, and it carried over into tonight. We had some lulls and high points along the way there, and that's to be expected a little when you have guys in there who haven't played a whole lot.

"We did things the way we need to do things tonight, and I'm proud of the guys. We've played two pretty ballgames in a row now, and we've got another week of practice ahead of us to get better."

The Bears led 26-8 near the midway point of the first half on a steal and fast-break layup from Beitzel, and two possession later, following a deep 3-pointer from the Jackets' Tanner Adler, freshman Paul Garnica (eight points) splashed home three ball to put Northern Colorado ahead 29-11

Garnica hit another 3-pointer about two minutes later to push that bulge to 34-13 and Elliott Lloyd (12 points, seven rebounds) followed with another deep ball for a 37-16 advantage with 5:30 left in the first half.

Black Hills State finished the half on a 14-7 run to pull within 44-30 at the break.

Lloyd committed a turnover in the Jackets' comeback, Emmanuel Addo (12 points, six rebounds) traveled, Chris Kaba (13 points) rushed a jumper and Garnica stepped on the baseline for another turnover.

All small things in the big picture, but things that Hill knows getting focus can correct.

"The biggest thing this team is lacking, and what we're working on," Hill said, "is playing with a sense of urgency from the tip to the final buzzer. Since I've been here, Northern Colorado basketball has been built on working harder than the other guy. We're getting back to that point, slowly but surely.

"We defended our home turf tonight and made big plays when we needed to ensure the game was never close. Sometimes its hard when you're playing a team like that, because there are so many unknowns and a little bit of a worry about intensity. So this was a good test for us."

Northern Colorado nearly doubled-up Black Hills State in the rebounding battle (42-26) and missed just three free throws in the entire game (20-23).

One of those misses came from Beitzel, who entered the game a perfect 27-of-27 from the line this season, ranking him first in the country in free-throw percentage. He made six of seven against Black Hills State.

Beitzel led all players with nine points and three assists before halftime, and Addo, Garnica and Kaba took eight apiece into the locker room.