December 1, 2011

Men's Basketball done in by Griffins' hot shooting

B.J. Hill 1310-AM KFKA postgame

GREELEY -- Northern Colorado Basketball started a home-heavy December on the wrong foot Thursday night with a sluggish 73-60 setback to NAIA Westminster (Utah) at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.

The Bears (2-5) were playing their first of five December home games—their most December games in Greeley since 1994—but the Griffins (9-2) spoiled the party with lights-out shooting from the field and from beyond the three-point arc.

Westminster junior Jake Orchard, a University of Utah transfer, led all players with 28 points on 6-of-6 three-point shooting and 9-of-10 shooting overall.

Northern Colorado sophomore Tate Unruh led the Bears with a career-high 16 points, including the first five of the game as the Bears built an 8-0 advantage.

Sophomore Paul Garnica put in 14 points, scoring 11 after halftime, and senior Mike Proctor had eight points and a season-high nine rebounds to help the Bears win the battle on the glass 34-25.

Northern Colorado guards Tevin Svihovec and Elliott Lloyd had seven points apiece off the bench.

"We played exactly how we practiced all week," Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill said. "I don't think our team has a lot of respect for anybody right now, and that's unfortunate. Our problem right now is we have a severe lack of leadership and maturity on this basketball team, and that showed this week.

"[Westminster] is a bunch of juniors and seniors. They're [NCAA] Division I transfers. They're experienced kids who execute a well-planned scheme. We got outplayed. We got outcoached. We got outdone in every aspect."

Orchard scored 13 of his 28 by halftime to lead the Griffins to a 32-29 advantage at the break, but he heated up even more in the second half (5-5 field goals, 3-3 three-pointers, 2-2 free throws), and that was the difference in Westminster's first win against an NCAA Division I team since 2004 (Idaho State).

Every time Thursday the Bears needed to get a stop to pull back into the game and avoid the upset, Orchard, or Tanner Gregory (11 points) usually had an answer.

Westminster, out of Salt Lake City, led by as many as 16 points in the second half, as it finished 12-of-25 from beyond the arc (48 percent) and forced the Bears into 16 turnovers.

"It wasn't the threes and the shots [Westminster] hit," Hill said. "They played well, but I think it was us more than it was them in determining this outcome. If you have 11 turnovers [in the first half] against a team that doesn't really pressure, it means you're not ready to go. It's obvious there were numerous guys in the home uniforms who weren't mentally ready to go at the beginning of the game.

"You give a good team like that life—you give them energy by your mistakes—they're going to capitalize, and that's exactly what they did."