Northern Colorado men's basketball ends five-game losing streak, beating Portland State 67-50
Northern Colorado gaurd Tevin Svihovec defends Portland State gaurd Lateef McMullan during their basketball game on Thursday, January 17 at the Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. Colleen Allison | The Mirror
Northern Colorado forward Derrick Barden puts up a lay up during the bear's game against Portland State on Thursday. Barden had 8 points and 9 rebounds during the game. Colleen Allison | The Mirror
The UNC men's basketball team broke its five-game losing streak against Portland State Thursday in a 67-50 victory at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. The University of Northern Colorado (3-11, 2-5 Big Sky) showed a dominate display of defense against Portland State (5-9, 3-4), something UNC head coach B.J. Hill said was an improvement for the struggling squad.
"Obviously we shot the ball well which got us off to a great start but I was more impress with the 40 minutes of defense that we played tonight," Hill said. "To give up 33 (shooting percentage) is a big step for these guys."
The Bears' suffocating defense was just one problem the Vikings faced. Another problem was the hot shooting stroke from UNC's best deep threat. For the third straight game, junior guard Tate Unruh showed why he holds the label of captain with another sparking performance as he made five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds.
"It's fun when you're shooting good," Unruh said. "My team has been helping me out by getting me the ball in the right place.
"We keep punching all night and we took it to them on both ends of the floor."
The only other player to hit double-digit points was junior guard Paul Garnica, who came off the bench and exploded with three 3-pointers in the first half and ended with 12 points, 2 steals and 2 assists. Garnica had only scored more than three points twice since entering conference. The Dec. 21 conference opener was the last game Garnica scored in double-digits when he had 14.
"It was definitely a must-win, with our backs against the wall," said Garnica, a junior point guard out of San Antonio. "It starts with practice, and in practice coach has been preaching about pressuring the ball a lot and between me, (sophomore guard) Tevin (Svihovec), (freshman guard) James (Davis) and (junior guard Xzaivier James), we try to get into each other's stuff as hard as we can, and I think it paid off. "
The Bears have one more home game before a two-game road swing against Northern Arizona (5-12, 2-5) and Sacramento State (8-7, 3-4) on Jan. 24 and 26, respectively.
The Bears host Eastern Washington (4-13, 2-5) at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Butler Hancok Sports Pavilion. Eastern Washington has lost its past two games, and are 0-8 on the road so far this season.
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