Men's Basketball gives one away to Eastern Washington
CHENEY, Wash. -- Parker Kelly's 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining Wednesday night put Eastern Washington ahead for good and sent Northern Colorado Basketball home with a numbing 79-76 loss at Reese Court.
The Bears (8-17, 5-9 Big Sky) led 50-33 early in the second half and seemed on the verge of downing the Eagles (12-14, 6-7) for the sixth straight time.
But Kelly, who scored all nine of his points after halftime, and Collin Chiverton, who scored 14 of his 22 points after the break, had other ideas and led Eastern Washington past Northern Colorado for the first time since 2009.
Paul Garnica came off the bench with 14 points, giving Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill double-digit points for the first time since Jan. 2 (Idaho State).
"[The Eagles] made some big-time shots," Hill said to 1310-AM KFKA following the game. "We wanted them to hit threes, but we gave up too many easy baskets in the second half. We had a little lack of communication defensively.
"Bottom line is: what you saw is a young team that hadn't been in this specific situation. Each game seems to be a new test with these guys, and this was a new test they hadn't been in: up double-digits, on the road … how do you put your foot on somebody's throat and finish a game? We didn't respond well. When they turned up the pressure we didn't handle it real well.
"To me, that was the difference. When [Eastern Washington] cranked it up, we didn't play with the same type of confidence and poise that we did in the first half."
The Bears in the last couple weeks have moved to the top line nationally in three-point field-goal percentage, and that number got even better Wednesday (from 44.5 percent to 45.2 percent) with a 10-of-16 effort, including Unruh and Garnica's 8-of-11 night.
The Bears shot 45.7 percent from the floor before halftime and made seven of their first eight long-range tries to take a 43-29 lead into the break.
Northern Colorado led by 16, at 62-46, with 11:25 to play when Garnica banged home a three, but it scored just five points in the next seven minutes and held only a two-point lead, at 67-65, with 4:55 remaining.
Eastern Washington took a 74-72 lead at the 1:50 mark on a Parker three-pointer, before Mike Proctor hit a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left to put the Bears back on top 76-75.
Parker hit that final trey to give the Eagles a lead they wouldn't relinquish again.
"I told all the guys: 'Keep your head up. Our backs are against the wall, but feeling sorry for yourself does nothing for you and does nothing for our team in our goal, which is to get better every day. If you're going to waste energy feeling sorry for yourself, that same energy could be used to look yourself in the mirror and analyze what you can do to help yourself and to help this team get better for our next game.'
"That's the only choice we have, and that's what we're going to do. We're going to come back to work and fight to get better. This is a very talented team; a very young team. They just keep learning lessons, and they're learning them the hard way. They learned an important one tonight."