February 15, 2006

Bears Rally Falls Short in 85-80 Loss at Denver

Feb. 15, 2006

Box Score |  Notes

DENVER - After trailing by as many as 21 points in the second half, the University of Northern Colorado men's basketball team used a 19-6 run in the second half to trim the margin to only seven points with 5:13 to play, but All-American candidate Yemi Nicholson scored on a put-back off a missed shot and the University of Denver held on to win 85-80 on Wednesday night at Magness Arena.

Northern Colorado (4-23) got as close as five points with 12 seconds left on a lay-up by Kirk Archibeque but could get no closer. The Bears took great care of the ball on the night, committing only seven turnovers (which matched a season-low), but fell victim to Denver's hot shooting, as the Pioneers hit 68 percent in the first half and 59.6 percent for the game.

Denver (14-12) jumped out to a 15-4 early lead behind six points from Nicholson, who had 17 by halftime. But Northern Colorado got back into the contest with a pair of 7-0 runs, the last punctuated by a 3-pointer from Matt Kline that trimmed the margin to 25-24. The Pioneers then used a 12-4 spurt to lead by 12, 44-32, at halftime.

The Pioneers led 63-42 midway through the second half before the Bears began their comeback. Northern Colorado first used an 11-2 spurt to pull within 11 points with seven minutes remaining. The lead would hit single-digits for the first time since late in the second half when Erik Olson made two free throws at the six-minute mark.

"We just did not have an answer for Yemi tonight," Bears head coach Craig Rasmuson said. "We did not play with the energy we needed in the first half tonight. But playing on the road, we came out with great passion and energy in the second half."

Nicholson was unstoppable, hitting on 10-of-11 shots and scoring 28 points. He scored 34 points in the meeting with the Bears on Jan. 11 of this season.

Northern Colorado was led by 22 points from Archibeque, 14 of those coming in the second half. Sean Taibi added 17 points by hitting on 4-of-9 3-pointers. He pushed his season total to 74 trifectas, which is just one off the school record of 75 held by Sean Nolen.

Northern Colorado returns to action on Monday night at 7 p.m. when they host Division I Independent IPFW (7-17) at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. The Mastodons lost 79-64 to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Wednesday night, their last game before traveling to Greeley.