Northern Colorado men's basketball defeat Eastern Washington at home
Now starting to group together some wins, the UNC men's basketball team controlled Eastern Washington during a 72-56 win Saturday at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion to build some momentum before traveling for an upcoming two-game road stint.
"Having the feeling of being home, being on our court, shooting on our rims and have that crowd that was so excited definitely motivates our team, and it showed," sophomore forward Tim Huskisson said. "The last two games we've played our fans have been in it - it definitely puts a positive effect on home court advantage."
Prior to beating the Eagles (4-12, 3-5 Big Sky), the University of Northern Colorado (5-11, 3-5) defeated Portland State 67-50 at home Thursday to snap a five-game losing streak.
The Bears used the crowd to their benefit Saturday, coming out with five big first-half 3-pointers, getting the gym loud early.
A big part of UNC's success was the rebounding effort, with the Bears snatching 47 rebounds to Eastern Washington's 29.
"We used to side three guys to the basket (for rebounds), but we got beat up on the road during transition and Tim wasn't going so we sent him back to defensive transition, so theoretically we should be getting less, not more," UNC head coach B.J. Hill said of the team's rebounding Saturday. "I think it has a lot to do with (junior center) Connor (Osborne) and (junior forward) Derrick (Barden) who had 13 (offensive rebounds combined) and the guards rebounding their shots."
Saturday's success had Barden's and junior guard Tate Unruh's fingerprints all over it, with dazzling performances by both.
With his third double-double in three games, Barden grabbed 15 rebounds and scored 15 points. Barden also had nine points and eight rebounds in the victory against Portland State.
Unruh made five 3-pointers for the fourth consecutive game, went 8-for-15 from the field overall and finished with 21 points and one steal.
"As a shooter, you can't ask for more unselfish teammates," Unruh said. "I can't thank them enough. Shots weren't necessarily falling all night, but we played tough defense and our bigs are awesome. Derrick goes like no one else in this league."
The Bears take to the road for their next two games, starting the trip at 6:35 p.m. Thursday at Northern Arizona (6-12, 3-5) and concludes at 8:05 p.m. Saturday at Sacramento State (8-8, 3-5). The Bears' sole road win this season was against North Dakota, 75-66, on Dec. 21.
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