Proctor's double-double not enough in Senior Night loss
GREELEY -- Senior Mike Proctor scored 15 points and had 11 rebounds Thursday, recording his fourth career double-double, in an 88-71 loss to Big Sky-leader Weber State at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
Proctor scored eight of his points and grabbed six of his rebounds in the first half, but the Bears (9-18, 5-10 Big Sky) still trailed 48-39 at the break after trailing by as many as 12 three times in the first 20 minutes.
Northern Colorado started the second half on a 15-8 run, though, and trailed by just three, at 57-54, with about 14 minutes to play. Weber State (23-4, 14-1) showed some championship moxie from there, closing the game on a 31-17 spurt to win in Greeley for the first time since 2009.
Tevin Svihovec, who scored a Northern Colorado NCAA Division I-record 34 points Saturday night, struggled to find his rhythm against the Wildcats, making just three of his 13 field-goal attempts and finishing with nine points.
"I think when we cut it to three … I saw a lot of fatigue on our guards' face and, unfortunately, we're pretty short-handed at the guard spot," Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill said. "I would have loved to get Tevin out, but I just didn't feel comfortable doing that. I know he was gassed, but I was hoping we could just push through there for the next four minutes, and I was going to try and use some timeouts down the stretch if we could just stay tight.
"But, unfortunately, I saw a lot of fatigue. And [Weber State] did what a good team does. They took advantage of that."
Proctor has been known throughout his career as an emotional player, and that was never more evident than Thursday night. He got a standing ovation from the crowd during a pregame ceremony and then gave one of the best efforts of his career in his final game in front of that same crowd.
In his time with the Bears, Proctor has turned himself from a player that some, including Hill, have characterized as a "bull in a China closet" to a skilled big man with a vast array of paint moves.
He displayed all of them in this one, doing his best to push his defending Big Sky Conference-champion Bears to a fourth straight berth in the league's postseason tournament.
"Those are big-time stats, big-time numbers by a very good player," Hill said of Proctor's final stat line, "and that's what you need from your senior leader going into a game like this. He did everything he could and stepped up and was special.
"He's a guy who's been through the thick and thin in the building of this program. He believed in what we had envisioned four years ago and came in and did his best and was a huge part of building this and winning a championship when a lot of people didn't think it was possible. That's a huge credit to his character and commitment and how hard he works."
Now, Proctor and Hill and the rest of the Bears have to do some scoreboard watching and scoreboard hoping … and win their regular-season finale next Tuesday at Portland State (8 p.m. MT).
As far as Northern Colorado is concerned, Eastern Washington, which defeated Idaho State on Thursday, needs to win its final two games against Portland State and Idaho State, and Montana State needs to lose its final two games against Montana and Northern Arizona.
Those results would put Eastern Washington in third place in the final Big Sky regular-season standings, and, paired with a Bears victory against the Vikings, would put Northern Colorado on the postseason bracket because of its regular-season split with the Eagles.
The whole scenario could have been avoided with a victory Thursday against Weber State—a win would have left Northern Colorado just a game back of the sixth and final playoff spot—but Wildcats star Damian Lillard had other ideas.
He scored 30 points in front of the 16 NBA scouts in attendance and showed the Greeley crowd what a potential first-round pick in this year's NBA Draft looks like. He finished the night with six makes in 15 attempts but made up for it with a 13-for-14 effort from the free-throw line.
"I thought holding him to 6-for-15 was about as good as what we're going to do," Hill said. "You just hope he doesn't get to the fee-throw line. But that's why Weber is Weber. They surround [Lillard] with really good players. He's going to create other shots and good shots for other guys, and they're very capable players.
"You're talking about a team that's got three guys (Lillard, Scott Bamforth, Kyle Bullinger) who have been first team all-conference at one point in their career [and] the returning Freshman of the Year (Byron Fulton). They just keep bringing the weapons at you, and if you have a weak link they are going to find it."
Hill was talking about Weber there, but he clearly hopes and plans for others to be saying that about the Bears over the next few seasons. The hope among Northern Colorado fans is that Unruh, Svihovec, Garnica, Emmanuel Addo, Tim Huskisson and others become those returning all-conference first teamers.
The hope is that Svihovec becomes next year's returning Freshman of the Year.
The hope is—and Hill's plan is—that his team will be every bit as good as Weber State is this year.
The Bears just aren't there.
Weber State showed why it's one of the best teams in the country, but Hill's "Baby Bears," with just one senior and no juniors on their roster, showed they aren't that far off.