Men's basketball continues defensive push, drowns Frogs in Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Four players scored in double figures for Northern Colorado men's basketball on Wednesday night against TCU, and the Bears limited the Horned Frogs to 21 second-half points in a convincing 64-53 nonconference road victory inside Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
Junior Devon Beitzel led all scorers with 15 points in the win, and senior Will Figures had 13 and three steals to lead Northern Colorado to its 12th win this season (12-3, 1-1 Big Sky) and push its record against Mountain West competition to 3-1.
The biggest stat for Tad Boyle's program, though, is those points allowed after halftime. That's the third time this season the Bears have allowed that few of points in a half (Air Force and Montana).
Northern Colorado also pushed TCU (6-7, 0-0 Mountain West) into 19 turnovers and limited the Frogs' top two scorers, Ronnie Moss and Edvinas Ruzgas, to well below their season averages. Moss (16.2 points per game this season) and Ruzgas (15.3) scored just 10 and two points, respectively, in the loss.
"Our guys are just buying into the defensive philosophy that we've been preaching since we got here," Boyle said. "We did a great job on Monday against a good DU team and tonight ... I'm telling you, Moss is a good player, but Yahosh (Bonner), you just can't say enough about him. And it's starting to rub off.
"Elliott Lloyd is really starting to buy into that, Will's gotten better, and Devon did a terrific job tonight on their shooter (Ruzgas). He's a very capable three-point shooter, but we were there every shot. Coming into the game we knew we had to shut down three of their guys, and we did it."
On Monday against DU, the Bears became just one of 22 teams in the nation this year to already have 11 wins at this point in the season, and their victory tonight in Texas extends their school record of wins prior to New Year's.
Northern Colorado will look to keep the momentum going in 2010 on Saturday, Jan. 2, when it dips back into Big Sky Conference play against Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Junior Chris Kaba added 11 points against TCU to help the Bears already earn their eighth win outside of Greeley this season after winning just four such games last season, and Lloyd, a redshirt freshman, tied his career high with 10 points in his first game back in Texas since starring at Houston's Klein Forest High School a couple years ago.
"Chris really played good minutes, in the first and second half. The thing about Chris is he's a confident shooter, which we really like to have. I just want to make sure he's taking good shots. He played great minutes tonight, Elliott played great minutes and Neal (Kingman) really boxed out well.
"Our bench was terrific, and they are really starting to feel comfortable. I wish I could get Connor (Osborne) and David (Arnold) and Hauns (Brereton) more minutes, but it's just one of those things were we've really got it going right now."
After trailing by as many as 11 in the second half, the Horned Frogs pulled to within 58-53 with 2:51 remaining but failed to score again.
A layup by Will Figures gave the Bears a 37-36 advantage with 16:57 to play in the second half and they never trailed thereafter.
"This is a good win for our program for where we are in our development," Boyle said. "These are the marquee wins that we've got to get. We came up a little short at Oklahoma, but this is a great win tonight here. Midway through the second half, I came to the conclusion in my mind that we're a good basketball team. We're not a great team yet, but we're a very good team. We really defend, and when it counted tonight we got some big stops. I wouldn't trade our team for any we've played against this year. Our guys are really believing in themselves, and we've got a toughness about us that I really, really like."