Jan. 28, 2006
GREELEY, Colo. - After losing by 43 points to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 12 days ago, the University of Northern Colorado men's basketball team put forth a better effort against the same team on Saturday, but came up just short, falling 72-66 in Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
Northern Colorado (2-21) did not let the Islanders (14-7) jump out on them early like they did the first meeting of the season. The Bears led by two points, 24-22, with 9:26 to play in the first half. But TAMUCC went on a 12-0 run over the next four minutes to build an 11-point lead before halftime.
UNC had whittled that lead down to five right before the half, before Dwayne Birden was called for a questionable foul on a block shot attempt and the Bears bench received a technical foul. The Islanders converted all four free throw attempts and led 43-34 at the break.
A&M-Corpus Christi appeared to be ready to blow the game open with a 8-2 run to open the second half, as they led by 15, 51-36, at the 18:05 mark. But the Bears whittled the lead away slowly, closing the gap to only four points at the 10-minute mark.
The lead stayed under 10 points the rest of the way and a Sean Taibi 3-pointer with 1:40 to play cut the margin to just three points. A layup by Kirk Archibeque but the Bears down by only a deuce, but they would get no closer. TAMUCC made 5-of-6 free throws over the final 1:32 to seal the victory.
"When they switched to the zone, we were not able to make shots and that was our Achilles Heel," head coach Craig Rasmuson said after the game. "Our effort, our defense and our rebounding was very good and we took care of the ball better than we did two weeks ago, but our offense let us down."
After having success in the low post early in the game, the Bears were then greeted by a zone from the Islanders, a strategy that helped A&M-Corpus Christi. Northern Colorado struggled with its shot, hitting on 6-of-23 (26.1%) from 3-point range for the game and managing only 32.8 percent (19-of-58) from the field for the game.
Taibi led the Bears with 18 points, but hit only 4-of-15 from 3-point range. The 15 3-point attempts set a school record, eclipsing the previous record of 12 held by each Sean Nolen (12/7/02 vs. Colorado Christian) and Michael Frazier (1/12/04 vs. Iowa State).
He was one of four Bears to score in double figures, as Archibeque added 13 (and seven boards), Matt Kline scored 10, as did Birden.
Sophomore guard Jared Lewis gave the Bears a spark off the bench, scoring five points, grabbing three rebounds and dishing out three assists in 12 minutes of playing time.
Chris Daniels led TAMUCC with 23 points, hitting on 9-of-13 shot from the field. He also blocked four shots.
The Islanders hit 51.1 percent from the field for the game. They committed 16 turnovers, while UNC had only 11.
Northern Colorado is back in action on Monday night when they host another Division I Independen team in Texas-Pan American. Game time is set for 7 p.m.