Bears can't stop Vikings in second Big Sky home loss
GREELEY -- Every time Northern Colorado Basketball got within range Thursday night, Portland State was there with an answer.
The Viks entered the game shooting a Big Sky-worst 29 percent from three-point range, but they had little trouble in this one, knocking down 13-of-21 from deep in an 86-75 win at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
The Bears (5-10, 2-2 Big Sky) allowed 49 points in the first half as Portland State (8-9, 2-3) shot out to a 49-36 lead with 73 percent shooting from the field and 75 percent shooting from three.
"We definitely wanted to control the paint and make them hit threes, and they did," Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill said. "But we have to adjust. We had a lot to do with how open those threes were. [The Vikings] are [NCAA] Division I players. They are good players. They play for a good coach. They're going to hit open shots. The problem we had was they were very open.
"We're very inconsistent from our shoulders up in our habits and how we prepare, and it shows. You can't hide. That's what I'm trying to get across to these guys: Your daily habits show up on game night. When you don't come to practice with that intensity, you can't just flip the switch on game night."
The Bears pulled to within eight a few times in the second half and got to within six, 78-72, when Mike Proctor put in a layup with 2:21 to play. But Portland State, as it did time and again, bounced back with a couple free throws to push the margin back to six.
Earlier, Elliott Lloyd made it 62-55 with a contested 3-pointer, but the Viks hit a couple free throws and put in a layup on their next two possessions to push their lead back to 11.
Want another example? How about in the first half when Northern Colorado responded to PSU's 20-10 game-opening run by pulling within four at 25-21 with a little more than eight minutes to play in the first half?
The Viks poured water on that rally with a three-pointer and a layup on subsequent trips up the floor to lead 30-21.
Proctor and Osborne both tied career highs with 16 points apiece, and Elliott Lloyd broke past the 10-point barrier for the first time this season with 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range.
"I thought Elliott played well," Hill said. "He led our team. He shot the ball well from three tonight. I thought he did a better job of when he did attack he tried to attack the rim. We've been trying to get him to do that and not leave his feet so far from the rim.
"I thought he was really tuned in defensively. We need Elliott to have that energy [and] that focus from the get-go. If he's tuned in and aggressive and playing with a lot of energy, like he was at Sac. State and like he was in the second half tonight, guys feed off that."
Paul Garnica, the Bears' leading scorer, finished with just three points, and those came on a beyond-half-court buzzer-beater at halftime.
But it wasn't enough.
Charles Odum led Portland with 22 points, and Lateef McMullan added a career-high 20 as Portland State won its first road game of the season.
"I just want my teammates to just be defensive-minded," Lloyd said. "[To] just want to get stops and go out there and get stops -- not pray for stops or wish for stops; go out there and take stops. The offense will take care of itself. We're a good enough team offensively to get buckets. It's all about defense."