Bears bounce back with lopsided home win
GREELEY -- Northern Colorado Basketball came into its game Saturday night against Johnson & Wales looking to avoid any scene that bore any resemblance to Thursday night's frustrating set back against Westminster.
Well, mission accomplished.
The Bears had six players score in double figures against the NAIA Division II Wildcats, led by career-high nights from Emmanuel Addo and Bryce Douvier, in a lopsided 98-66 win at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
Addo, a redshirt-sophomore, finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds—both are career-mosts—and Douvier, a freshman making his first career start, added 10 points and 10 rebounds in just 17 minutes to lead Northern Colorado (3-5) to a tie for its second-most lopsided win as a NCAA Division I program.
The Bears matched their margin of victory in last season's 84-52 win against Black Hills State but fell short of matching their 93-52 win against Tabor College to start last season's run.
Addo made seven of nine from the field Saturday and all three of his free-throw tries, while Douvier, who suffered a broken nose late in the second half, made three of six from the floor and grabbed a team-high six offensive rebounds.
Douvier joined redshirt-freshman Tevin Svihovec (11 points) and sophomore walk-on Xzaivier James in making their first career starts. They lined up around the center circle for the opening tip with redshirt-sophomores Tate Unruh (12 points) and Connor Osborne.
Sophomore Paul Garnica came off the bench and splashed home four of six 3-pointers for 12 points, and freshman Tim Huskisson added 15 points in helping the Bears outscore Johnson & Wales (3-8) 58-17 in bench scoring.
All that offense helped Northern Colorado put Thursday's numbing loss to the Griffins behind it and overcome the absences of senior Mike Proctor (ankle) and freshman Brendan Keane (knee), who didn't suit up Saturday but aren't expected to miss a lot of time—if any more games.
"Our starting lineup was going to be what it was," Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill said. "[Proctor and Keane] were hurt yesterday in practice, but our starting lineup was going to be what it was. That's what we had yesterday in practice, so that's what we had today in the game.
"After [Thursday] there definitely needed to be some changes. To me, it's all about how guys respond, you know? There are some things that need to change in our program, and I think we took some steps in the right direction tonight. But we're by no means there.
"The key is going to be how we practice from this point on. We've got (10) days to be build on, and it's going to have a lot to do with our success, how these next (10) days go."
The Bears shot 51 percent for the game and 50 percent from the field in the first half to lead comfortably, 51-34, at the break.
But the Wildcats didn't go quietly, as Geoffrey Todd started the second half with a three-pointer 40 seconds in before swiping a steal and a putting in layup on the Bears' next possession to pull Johnson & Wales within 12 at 51-39.
Northern Colorado answered with a 24-10 run, however, to make the score 75-49 with 8:42 to play.
The Bears then limited Johnson & Wales to just four points in the final four minutes as they made a push for their first 100-point night since scoring 101 against McNeese State in Hawai'i in 2009.
Northern Colorado improved to 19-2 under Hill when leading at the half and 16-3 when allowing fewer than 70 points by dishing out a season-high 20 assists and committing just 13 turnovers.
Garnica led that charge with a career-high eight assists against just three giveaways.
"I thought we took a step in the right direction, for the most part," Hill said. "We had some lulls, but I thought there were definitely some bright spots we can build on."