Men's Basketball can't hold off Sacramento State on the road
By ZACH BOND
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Northern Colorado led by as many as 10 points in the second half but couldn't stave off Sacramento State in a 79-72 loss inside The Nest on Saturday night.
The loss was the Bears' second straight and fifth in-a-row on the road, as their Big Sky record moved to 3-7 at the halfway mark of conference play. The loss dropped the Bears to 5-13 overall.
Northern Colorado came out of the locker room after halftime hitting all the right notes, stretching a 35-32 lead into a 42-32 advantage just a minute-and-a-half into the second half of action.
Unfortunately, the Bears couldn't hold off the hard-charging Hornets, as Sacramento State rode some hot shooting down the stretch to victory. The Hornets hit six 3-pointers in the game's last 18 minutes to carry home the victory.
"[Sacramento State] did a good job. I don't want to take anything away from them. I'm very proud of our guys. They battled their tails off," Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill said. "I'm very proud of the way our guys battled. It didn't turn out the way that they wanted, but when you look at the numbers, we had more field goals – you know, the only thing that didn't go in our favor was six free throw attempts to 19 free throw attempts. That was the difference in the game.
"We outrebounded them by seven. This is the No. 3 rebounding team in the conference. We only turned it over 12 times tonight, but they took advantage of every single one of them. I'm proud of these guys. They busted their tails."
The key stretch in the second half came during a 22-7 Sacramento State run capped off by three straight three-point buckets.
For the second consecutive game, the Bears shot better than 50 percent from the field, as they finished with 52.7 percent shooting on Saturday. The Bears weren't too shabby from behind the arc either, finishing with 45.8 percent shooting from three-point range. Their 11 3-pointers tied a season high.
The problems came on the other end, where Sacramento State kept up with the hot-shooting Bears, and then some. The Hornets finished up at 54 percent from the field and 47.4 percent three-point shooting.
The difference in the game may have come at the charity stripe, where Sacramento State made 16 of 19 (84.2%). The Bears went to the stripe just six times on the game, making three of those attempts.
An encouraging sign for Northern Colorado was its continued dominance on the glass. Sacramento State came into the game as the conference's third-leading rebounding team, but the Bears outrebounded the Hornets 30-23.
Individually, the Bears were led, for the second game in a row, by redshirt sophomore Tevin Svihovec (Kingwood, Texas). The 6-foot-2-inch guard poured in a season-high 21 points while having one of his most efficient nights from the field, finishing 9-of-13 overall.
Svihovec also did a superb job of facilitating the offense, tying a career high by dishing out seven assists while committing only three turnovers.
Junior Derrick Barden (Detroit, Mich.) had another strong performance too, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting while also pulling down nine rebounds. In a change of pace, Barden, who usually does a majority of his scoring around the paint, showed off his long-range skills, hitting a career-high three 3-pointers.
The bench was also strong for the Bears on Saturday. Emmanuel Addo (Toronto, Ontario) came off the bench and poured in 11, the most points he's scored since dropping 14 in a non-conference matchup against Tabor.
"That was Emmanuel's best game of the season, and I told him that because I'm on him harder than anyone else because of what he's capable of bringing," Hill said. "We got 20 points off the bench tonight between him and Paul [Garnica], that's enough."
Paul Garnica (San Antonio, Texas) also provided a spark off the bench, especially in the first half, where he scored all nine of his points. All of those points came in a minute-and-a-half span in the first half when he hit back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers.
Those three-point buckets were huge in helping the Bears dig out of an early hole as they found themselves down by as many as nine early on. Northern Colorado battled back though and ended the half on an extremely high note as Tate Unruh (Branson, Mo.) banked in a leaning 3-pointer at the buzzer from about 30 feet away.
The Bears were clearly buoyed by the momentum gained from Unruh's buzzer beater and scored the first seven points of the second half. Svihovec capped off the burst with a 3-pointer followed up by a layup.
Sacramento State's comeback was led by Mikh McKinney, who finished the game leading all scorers with 26 points. The guard enjoyed a hot shooting night, finishing 9-of-13 from the field.
For the Bears, it's time to head back home as they kick off the second half of the Big Sky season with a pair of home games against Idaho State and Weber State. They will take on Idaho State at 7:05 p.m. (MT) on Thursday, Jan. 31 before playing host to Weber State at 7:05 p.m. (MT) on Saturday, Feb. 2.
"At some point in the next 18 months, this team is going to be great," Hill said. "I don't know when it's going to be, but the only thing that's going to keep them from getting there is them not believing. I still believe that we have a locker room full of guys that believe in their abilities.
"They're not happy, obviously, but as long as they don't pout; as long as they don't quit believing and come to work and bring those axes to keep chopping and keep chopping, this team is going to be fine."