February 6, 2014

Bengals make late 3 to sink Bears, 73-70

Collin Boyles

POCATELLO, Idaho – Northern Colorado had its eyes set on taking a road game from Idaho State Thursday night at Holt Arena, but the home squad sank a 3 with 12 seconds remaining to solidify a 73-70 win.

The Bengals used points off turnovers and free throws to be close in the end. The Bears turned the ball over 13 times, in which the Bengals turned into 26 points. ISU also sank 81% of its free throws for the night.

"That's the difference and (I'm) not trying to take anything away from Idaho State, but those are 'us' stats," Head Coach B.J. Hill said. "Thirteen [turnovers] is too high when you're not pressing."

Both the Bears and Bengals traded scoring throughout much of the first half, although ISU capitalized on what UNC usually does best, scoring the second chance points. ISU was able to convert six second chance points on six offensive boards. Idaho State's Tomas Sanchez sank two of three straight 3's to give the Bears its biggest deficit of the first half at seven.

Following the 9-0 run capped by Sanchez, the Bears continued on a 22-11 run to take its largest lead of the first, 30-26, with just over five minutes to go in the half. Another 8-0 run by the Bengals gave the home team the edge, just before going into halftime, 36-34.

The Bears were able to answer every Bengals score coming out of the half until ISU took advantage of a steal, converting a fast break layup with just over 15 minutes left in the game. Freshman guard Anthony Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) then scored six straight points for the Bears to give his team a 47-45 lead, the team's first lead since 4:15 in the first.

Each squad traded scores again over the next five minutes until the Bengals took a steal down-court and converted an and-one layup to take the lead again, 55-54. Freshman Jordan Wilson (Los Angeles, Calif.) was later able to score back-to-back baskets, the second coming off a steal and score, to give the Bears the go-ahead advantage. ISU followed with five unanswered points, giving the home squad a three-point lead, 63-60, with just under seven minutes to go.

Senior guard Tate Unruh (Branson, Mo.) had not scored until 5:14 left in the game, but he made those points count. The 3-point specialist knocked down two 3s while tying the game on both scores. After the Bengals' Andre Hatchett later tied the game at 68, Unruh scored again to give the Bears a 70-68 lead.

Sanchez then followed with a 3 to put the Bengals up one, 71-70, with just 12 seconds left. Coming off a missed jumper by junior guard Tevin Svihovec (Kingwood, Texas), the referees reviewed a possible foul and put 0.9 second on the clock and sent the Bengals to the line. ISU sank the two free throws and UNC was unable to make the desperation 3 to finalize the score, 73-70 ISU.

"It doesn't come down to the last play, but (when) we're down two, you've got to understand that a three beats you," Hill said.

On the night, the Bears shot 26-of-51 (51%) while the Bengals shot 25-54 (46%) from the field. UNC held the advantage in 3s, 8-of-18 (44%) compared to ISU's 6-of-15 (40%). The difference maker came at the line as Idaho State sank 17-of-21 (81%) compared to Northern Colorado's 10-of-15 (67%).

Barden led the Bears in scoring with 14 points, followed by Wilson with 13 as the only other Bear in double-figures. Barden also led in rebounds with six while Svihovec and junior forward Tim Huskisson (Willard, Mo.) totaled four assists each. Sanchez led the Bengals in scoring with 23 points while Hatchett followed with 19.

Northern Colorado will look to stop a three-game losing streak on the road at Big Sky first place Weber State. The Bears will play at 7 p.m. in Ogden, Utah on Saturday before returning home the following week.

"Now we've got to go into the Purple Palace where we've never won and I mean you talk about a test," Hill said. "We've got to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, quit feeling sorry for ourselves because no one else is and we've got to go to work. That's the bottom line."