January 20, 2011

Beitzel scores 25 as Bears win again at Sacramento State

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

SACRAMENTO -- Northern Colorado hit eight of eight free throws in the final four minutes Thursday to hold off a late charge from Sacramento State in a 77-72 Big Sky Conference victory at The Nest.

The Bears (10-7, 6-0 Big Sky) got a game-high 25 points from Devon Beitzel and a career-high 18 points from sophomore guard Elliott Lloyd in defeating the Hornets (3-15, 0-7) for the fifth straight time.

Northern Colorado, winners of a season-best six straight, improved to 6-0 in conference play for the first time since 1967, when they won their first six as members of the Rocky Mountain Faculty Athletic Conference (later the RMAC).

Freshman Paul Garnica scored nine points in the victory (his highest since putting in 10 against Tabor College, and NAIA program), and Mike Proctor added eight points and a team-high five rebounds.

Sultan Toles-Bey tied Beitzel in scoring for Sacramento State, with a majority of his damage coming from deep (5-10 three-pointers) or uncontested (8-10 FTs).

Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill says he'll never complain about road victories, but the 23 free throws shot by Sacramento State's Toles-Bey and John Dickson will stick in his craw as his program makes its way back to Greeley tomorrow and readies for a Saturday night game against 2010 Big Sky regular-season champion Weber State.

"I'm more upset that he (Toles-Bey) got to the free throw line 10 times than him going five for 10 from three point," Hill said. "Some of the shots he made where incredible, with a hand in his face, so you have to tip your cap. But getting to the line 10 times, and John Dickson got their 13 times. We can't continue to play like that and expect to win."

The Bears shot 24 free throws of their own, but none were more important than their final eight attempts, which included two splash downs from Kingman, two from Beitzel and four from Lloyd in the final 25 seconds.

The marksmanship from the stripe helped the Bears, who led 67-60 at 3:53, withstand a final Hornets barrage.

"We showed some poise from the free-throw line," Hill said, "but we didn't show a lot of poise against the press late, which disturbs me a bit. But we'll get better at it."

Beitzel scored his final two points on a layup at 1:52 to put Northern Colorado ahead 73-64, but Sacramento State pulled within three, 75-72, with 14 seconds to go when Toles-Bey scored his 12th point of the final 2:32 with a 3-pointer.

Lloyd's free throws with 13 seconds left sealed the Bears' win and moved them a season-high three games above .500.

"Always seems to happen at this place," Hill said. "They always seem to have a guard that chucks them in at the end."

The Bears scored the first seven points of the game before the Hornets responded with an 8-0 run to take their only lead.

Northern Colorado controlled the rest of the first half and led 39-30 at the break, capped by a 3-pointer from Kingman with 21 seconds to play. The Bears entered the game 7-1 and 22-2 over the last two seasons when leading at the half.

Beitzel led all players with 11 points and four rebounds in the first half, and Lloyd added eight points. Beitzel's 10 points in the second half gave him 1,210 for his career, leaving him 16 shy of breaking into Northern Colorado's top-10 in all-time career scoring (Sean Nolen, 1,226)