GREELEY, Colo., March 7 - Jackson Stevenett scored a
game-high 25 points and had a team-best seven rebounds but no other Thunderbird
scored in double figures as Northern Colorado picked up a 66-58 win in Big Sky
men's basketball play Thursday night.
The Bears got off to a quick start and although the
Thunderbirds kept it close throughout they were never able to take a lead in
falling to 11-18 overall and 8-11 in Big Sky play with just one game left to
Southern Utah still remains in the hunt for a Big Sky
tournament bid, but the loss put a damper on the Thunderbirds' hopes. SUU came
into the night tied with Montana State, Sacramento State and Northern Arizona
for the final three tournament berths. Sacramento State lost at Montana while
MSU and NAU were playing at Bozeman, Mont., with that game close in the second
half when the SUU game ended.
The Bears ran out to a 9-2 lead, then after SUU pulled back
to within 11-8 on s Tyson Koehler basket scored went on a 72- run with SUU
getting just a short jumper from Jayson Cheesman. The Thunderbirds again
rallied, getting within 23-19 on a 3-pointer by Jackson Stevenett with 7:59 to
go in the half, but the Thunderbirds were unable to get any closer than four
the rest of the way and found themselves down 34-26 at halftime.
Stevenett had 11 points at the break on 4-of-7 shooting
while Cheesman had six on 3-of-5 from the floor but Damon Heuir went scoreless
in the period and the Thunderbirds hit just 11-of-28 shots while UNC converted
12-of-22 attempts. Derrick Barden and Connor Osborne each had nine at the break
to lead UNC.
Northern Colorado scored the first basket after the break to
build a 10-point lead and eventually pushed its advantage to 48-37 on a Tevin
Svihovec jumper at the 13:31 mark but the Thunderbirds battled back, pulling
within 52-48 after jumpers by Koehler and Stevenett.
SUU had an opportunity to pull within two after a Bear miss
but Stevenett's jumper from the left wing was off the mark and UNC pushed its
advantage to 54-48 on a Barden basket and SUU would get no closer the rest of
The Thunderbirds wound up shooting 41.7 percent (25-of-60)
while UNC finished at an even 50 percent (23-46).
"I thought we did a decent job matching their intensity but
in the first half they were a lot more physical than we were and it took a few
possessions to adjust," SUU Coach Nick Robinson said. "They played extremely
well. Both their post guys did a nice job of being physical and rebounding.
"We fought back in the but I thought there were a couple of
stretches where we got a little tight and we just didn't seem to have the
urgency, or the grit, to get a couple of stops that we needed. For us tonight
we just weren't able to get stops. They did a good job executing," he added.
Jayson Cheesman and Jaren Jeffery each had eight points for
the Thunderbirds but Heuir finished with just four, 12 fewer than his average.
Heuir and A.J. Hess each had four assists for the Thunderbirds, and Cheesman
had three, as SUU finished with 15 dimes, one less than their season high, and
they turned the ball over a season-low seven times.
Barden had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bears, who
out-rebounded the Thunderbirds 37-30.