November 11, 2006

Basketball Team Drops Season Opener to Ball State 81-42

Nov. 11, 2006

Box Score

MUNCIE, Ind. - In his first game for the University of Northern Colorado, freshman Chris Kaba led the Bears with a team-high 12 points in a season-opening 81-42 loss Saturday afternoon at Ball State.

Playing in front of his family, Kaba - an Indiana native - saw significant action for the Bears, and capitalized on his opportunity. The forward from Gary was 5-of-9 from the field and grabbed a team-high six rebounds.

Eight minutes into the game, the score was tied 8-8 and it seemed both teams would be locked in a defensive struggle, which boded well for the Bears (0-1) who, in line with the philosophy of first-year coach Tad Boyle, place a premium on strong defense and rebounding.

However, the team was unable to accomplish another Boyle staple, not turning the ball over, which ended up being the Achilles heel for Northern Colorado. In the first-half, the team committed 14 turnovers, enabling the Cardinals (1-0) to take a commanding 34-18 into the locker room, a margin that matched exactly the differential in second-chance points, with the Cardinals holding an 18-2 lead.

The Bears finished the game with 26 turnovers, compared to 8 for the Cardinals. Boyle said that the aggressive defense and trapping scheme that Ball State employed affected his team.

Ball State "didn't play against a team that handled it well tonight," said Boyle, of the Cardinals' full court press.

"The difference in the game was turnovers and second-chance points. If you look at the points off turnovers, it's 33-6 in their favor. They outscored us by 27 there. And they outscored us 27-6 with second-chance points, and that's 19 more there."

"If we can figure out how to box out and take care of the ball, we're in the game. It's pretty simple in those terms."

Boyle said that he thought his team matched up well against Ball State, which finished fourth in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference last season.

"They've got some good returning players with good experience" he said. "I thought our match-ups weren't really out of whack."

After the early stalemate at 8-8, the Cardinals jumped out with a 20-6 run over the next four minutes to pull away, and a 10-2 run to open the second half sealed the Bears' fate.

Aside from Kaba, Sean Taibi was the Bears only other player to reach double-digits, finishing with 11 points. He hit a 3-pointer with 4:45 left in the game, continuing his impressive 3-point streak. He has now connected from downtown in 30 consecutive games. Last season he set a Northern Colorado record by making a 3-pointer in every game, en route to setting a new school record with 84.

The Bears continue their trip through Indiana with a game at Purdue Monday night. The 5 p.m. (MT) tip-off will be the season opener for the Boilermakers.

Game Notes: Legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson was in attendance to watch the debut of his son, Ball State head coach Ronny Thompson. Ronny played under his father at Georgetown from 1989-92, and helped the Hoyas to an appearance in the Elite 8 in 1989. His brother, John Thompson III currently helms the Georgetown program ... Both Thompson and Boyle became the 17th coach in their program's respective history when they were hired in April ... Ronny Thompson assisted Jerry Green in Oregon during the 1993-94 season. Boyle worked with Green during the Ducks' next three seasons. Boyle and Thompson also have a connection with Larry Brown. Brown was Boyle's coach at Kansas and Thompson later worked with the Hall of Fame coach with the Philadelphia 76'ers.