GREELEY -- The home cooking for Northern Colorado men's basketball continued Monday night with a 87-69 nonconference victory against future-Big Sky team North Dakota at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
The Bears (16-10, 10-3 Big Sky) improved to 10-0 in Greeley this season with a strong second-half performance that saw them outscore the Fighting Sioux (13-13, 5-3 Great West) 50-37. Those 50 points are tied for the second-most Northern Colorado has scored in a half this season, just two behind its season high of 52 put in just two days ago in the first half against New Mexico State.
"We came out in the first half, and we were just lifeless," Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill said. "But to their credit, they responded and did a great job (in the second half). We went on a 16-2 run to start the second half, and that was the energy I saw yesterday (in practice) and the energy I expected these guys to have from the get-go."
The Bears were once again paced by senior guard Devon Beitzel, who scored 23 points on seven-of-15 shooting. He also made all four his free-throw tries and added five rebounds and three assists.
His five-of-seven effort from three-point land gave him 213 career 3-pointers, which has him in ninth in Big Sky history in the category.
Neal Kingman continued his recent surge, scoring 20 points with an eight-of-13 effort from the field. He scored 15 points Saturday in Las Cruces and has awoken from a stretch that saw him put in just 26 points in his previous five games.
The Bears showed off a balanced offensive attack, as five total players scored in double-digits. Chris Kaba chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds, including a ferocious tip-dunk off a missed shot.
Freshmen Emmanuel Addo and Paul Garnica came off the bench and added 10 points apiece. Addo did most of his damage inside, scoring on a number of post moves, while Garnica scored both inside and outside.
Garnica's 10 points matched a career high and the two players combined to hit nine of 13 field goals.
After a two-game break from Big Sky play, Northern Colorado will now prepare for the home stretch of its conference race and its quest for a first Big Sky regular-season title. The Bears will begin that march Saturday at home against Northern Arizona.
The Lumberjacks defeated Northern Colorado 65-54 in Flagstaff at the end of January.
"They embarrassed us down in their place," Kingman said. "We're a good team; they're a good team. We're at home, and it's going to be a good environment, and we're looking forward to it."