January 2, 2012

A few things go missing in Bears' loss to Idaho State

B.J. Hill KFKA postgame | Hill postgame presser | Mike Proctor postgame presser | Tevin Svihovec postgame presser

The Associated Press contributed to this story

GREELEY -- Northern Colorado missed a game-tying layup in the final seconds Monday against Idaho State, and it also missed sophomore guard Tate Unruh in a 57-55 loss at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.

Unruh, the Bears' leading scorer coming in at 13.1 points per game, went down with a left-ankle injury early in the first half and didn't return after playing just seven minutes.

Mike Proctor led Northern Colorado (4-9, 1-1 Big Sky) in Unruh's absence with a career-high 16 points, while Paul Garnica finished with 11 and Tevin Svihovec had 10, for his third straight double-digit scoring game.

Those three combined for 14 of the Bears' 17 turnovers, however, which the Idaho State (3-10, 1-1) turned into 22 points.

Northern Colorado also couldn't shoot its way out of multiple scoring droughts in the first and second halves. It went nearly seven minutes in the first half without a field goal and had two near four-minute stretches in the second half where its only points came from the free-throw line.

Northern Colorado started the game on a lightning-quick 11-2 run but couldn't sustain the momentum in falling to the Bengals for the first time since 2009 and the first time in Greeley since 2008.

"We didn't handle the pressure in the end-of-the-game situation, and part of that is--it's not that the guys don't value the ball--a big part of it, to me, is this group hasn't been in this situation," Bears coach B.J. Hill said. "They haven't been in a close game yet, where it's a one- or two-possession game down the stretch.

"We didn't react well [late in the game], and that's my fault. That's something I can do more in practice."

Chase Grabau paced the Bengals with 18 points, and Kenny McGowen added 16.

Grabau, a senior from Boulder, made two free throws to put Idaho State ahead 55-53 with 1:57 remaining, and after forcing Proctor into a turnover Melvin Morgan hit a turnaround jumper to make it a four-point game, 57-53, with 57 seconds to play

Garnica banged home a pair of free throws with 41 seconds left to make it 57-55, but he had the ball stolen by McGowen with 10 seconds remaining.

Northern Colorado quickly fouled Idaho State's Abner Moreira after the Bengals' inbounds play, and Moreira, a 45 percent free-throw shooter on the season, missed the front end of his one-and-one, and Lloyd raced up the court for the tying points.

He missed an off-balance layup with two seconds to play before Tim Huskisson (two points) grabbed the rebound and put up and missed a shot after the final buzzer.

"When you take out one of the top shooters (Unruh) in the country at any level--people may not think he's that; I've watched him for two-and-a-half years, he's that--he's definitely a guy that changes thing in a game plan: whether or not you're going to [run a] zone [against] Northern Colorado or not because of abilities.

"So that hurt us. It hurt us from a depth issue, but this is college basketball. You've got 13 scholarships and somebody else has got to step up and make plays."

The Bengals improved to 1-2 under interim coach Deane Martin, who took over after Joe O'Brien resigned Dec. 19.

Northern Colorado, the defending Big Sky regular-season and postseason champion, trailed 28-26 at halftime but opened the second half with a 7-0 run and was up 40-35 after a deep 3-pointer from Garnica.

Idaho State then appeared to take control, leading 49-43, when Grabau connected on a short shot, but the Bears tied it when Proctor found Svihovec on a perfect backdoor play to make it 51-51.

Proctor then muscled in a shot with 3:36 to go, making it 53-53, but that was Northern Colorado's last field goal.