Beitzel, Figures come up big in 'Super Sunday' OT win
GREELEY, Colo. -- Northern Colorado outscored Northern Arizona 14-7 in overtime Sunday afternoon to earn a gotta-have-it 70-63 Sky Conference men's basketball victory inside Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
Devon Beitzel scored 24 points and snatched down seven rebounds in the win, and Will Figures contributed 21 points on 11-of-12 free-throw shooting and tied a career high with nine rebounds to help the Bears (19-5, 8-3 Big Sky) move to within a game of league-leading Weber State, which split with Montana and Montana State this weekend.
Mike Proctor scored 14 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and swatted a career-high four blocks for the Bears (No. 11 Mid-Major Top 25), who were without starting forward Taylor Montgomery for the second straight game.
With the win, Northern Colorado won its ninth home game (9-1) in a season for the first time since 2002 and just the fourth time since 1990 and won 19 games overall in a season for just the fifth time in school history.
The victory was also Tad Boyle's 50th on the Northern Colorado sidelines, making him just the ninth coach in school history to reach that plateau.
Cameron Jones led the Lumberjacks (11-11, 5-6) with 17 points, while DeAngelo Jones had 16 and Shane Johannsen 13. NAU saw its three-game road winning streak end.
"Northern Arizona deserved to win this game," Northern Colorado coach Tad Boyle said, "but we had some players step up at different stretches today and really big down the stretch to get a victory we had to have. It's a sign of the progress we're making that we got a win today and I'm not really pleased."
Northern Colorado has now won four straight against Northern Arizona in Greeley and four of its last five meetings overall against NAU. The Bears have never lost to the Lumberjacks at home in Big Sky play, but all four wins have come down to the wire, with Northern Colorado winning the last three in regulation by no more than three points and needing overtime today to put NAU away.
And it wouldn't have been possible without the play of Beitzel, who scored 21 points in the second half and overtime and tied a career high with his six 3-pointers (6-11). Two of his long balls came in overtime, when the Bears needed him most.
"Devon and Will were outstanding," Boyle said. "They didn't start too well right out of the gate, but that was true for our whole team. Those are two of the guys on this team, though, that can definitely play themselves out of it (a funk) and get it going. They have been big for us all season and they were again today.
"And I can't say enough about Will Figures. He's beginning to learn how to make an impact on a game without hitting a lot of 3-pointers. He finished with a heck of a line (5-of-7 from the floor, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals). He's one of our senior leaders, and he showed that out there today."
Northern Colorado held a 55-52 advantage with 3:23 remaining but couldn't finish off an NAU squad that was coming off a 20-point drubbing at home last week against Montana.
The Bears missed three of their four free-throw attempts in the final 1:22, but the one they made came from Proctor with 22 seconds left and tied the game at 56.
Gabe Rogers had a chance to win it for NAU in regulation, but his 3-pointer was short, hitting the front of the rim as time expired.
Beitzel then took things over in the extra period to help Northern Colorado win for just the third time in the last two seasons when trailing at overtime.
"I thought during this last week of practice that our offense was getting better and that we were finally starting to turn the corner," Boyle said. "I was wrong, though, and I've just got to do a better job of coaching. We had some great individual performances today, but as a team, we weren't very good. We've got to get those hustle plays and momentum plays from everyone of our guys, not just a few. We dodged a bullet tonight."
Jones' two free throws at 5:36 in the first half gave NAU its largest lead of the game, 20-11, but Northern Colorado staged a furious rally over the next two minutes to get back into the game at 20-20.
Chris Kaba and Yahosh Bonner each hit two free throws in the comeback, and Mike Proctor's offensive rebound and putback off a Beitzel miss closed the gap.
Figures led the Bears with nine first-half points, and Proctor was right behind with seven and four boards.
Jones led the Lumberjacks with eight points in the first half and Josh Lepley cleaned up the NAU glass with five rebounds.
QUICK NOTES: Beitzel has scored 56 points in his last two home games against Northern Arizona (32 in 2009 and 24 in 2010) ... This was Beitzel's fifth game this season with 20 or more points ... He tied his career high with seven rebounds and six 3-pointers ... Figures extended his league-best active double figure scoring streak to 13 games and he tied his career-high with nine rebounds ... Figures scored 21 points in each game against Northern Arizona this season ... Mike Proctor had a career-high in blocked shots for the second straight game after tallying four in a career-most 39 minutes against NAU ... He also tied his career-high with 14 points and notched his first double-double of the season with a game-best 11 rebounds ... This was Boyle's 50th win at Northern Colorado ... Northern Colorado improves to 7-11 under Boyle in TV games ... The Bears won their first game of the month for the fifth straight month, dating back to last March.