November 12, 2013

Men's basketball shoots the lights out in home debut


GREELEY – There would be no hangover for the Northern Colorado men's basketball team after defeating Kansas State last week.

Derrick Barden made sure of that, as did his six other teammates who also scored in double-figures for the Bears in their 98-74 home defeat of Colorado Christian University Tuesday evening.

Barden (Detroit, Mich.) had a double-double by the end of the first half with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and he finished with 17 boards and 14 points after not attempting a shot of any kind in the second half.

Dominique Lee (Oakland, Calif.) also had 14 points for the Bears, Tate Unruh (Branson, Mo.) added 13, Connor Osborne (Littleton, Colo) recorded 12, Tim Huskisson (Willard, Mo.) and Jordan Wilson (Los Angeles, Calif.) each chipped in with 11 and Corey Spence (Baltimore, Md.) tallied 10 for the Bears in a scoring barrage that saw them shoot an even 60 percent from the field.

"It's good to see some depth show up," head coach B.J. Hill said. "We're going to need this depth. Over the course of the long haul, we're going to need these guys to step up consistently, whether it's practice or games or whatever. We want consistency from this group from the neck up."

The Cougars had a one-point lead in the early part of the first half, but it was short-lived as the Bears (2-0) applied pressure on both ends of the court. Northern Colorado show 19-of-31 (61.9 percent) from the field in the first half while holding CCU to 34.4 percent shooting, including a five-minute, 47-second field goal drought to end the first 20 minutes.

Northern Colorado built a 28-point lead late in the second half, and every player that dressed saw court time. The Bears had an astounding 58 points in the paint and 46 points from reserves. The Bears also benefited from 19 second-chance points, the product of 15 offensive boards.

Hill said Colorado Christian took advantage of newly-implemented hand check rules and got to the foul line early and often. In a game marred by fouls, the Bears were whistled for 27 personals, and the Cougars were guilty of 23. CCU made 26-of-31 free throws in the game while Northern Colorado made 13-of-24 from the charity stripe.

"We knew they were just going to drive the ball, which is something we don't do a lot offensively," Hill said. "We don't see a lot of hard dribble-drive action in practice on a daily basis, so I knew that was going to be an adjustment. And obviously putting them on the foul line 31 times, we didn't do a great job of that."

The Cougars made more free throws in the game (26) than field goals (21). Hill harped having too many turnovers (19) in the game, but he was satisfied with defensive field goal percentage for the second straight game.

"That's something I've been pounding in these guys' heads," Hill said. "To hold Kansas State to 33 and these guys to 30, I'm very pleased."

The Bears will look to bottle that defensive efficiency in their next two games, both on the road at New Mexico State on Nov. 20 and at Colorado State on Nov. 22. Hill had great praise for New Mexico State, calling it a program that is as "good as any mid-major program in the country with the weapons they have."

"Going down there is not fun, they've got a great environment, they get after you and their fans are awesome," Hill said. "It's going to be a great learning process for these guys."