Fresh off of concussion protocol, Dejour Reaves steps onto the hardwood in a game that already seems too far out of reach.
While anything is possible, especially regarding the University of Northern Colorado men’s basketball, fans are already leaving the stands with eight minutes left in the second half. Down by 10, the Bears’ play can only be described as sloppy with turnovers and lack of defensive energy.
“We’re just sloppy, and you go through it and watch those turnovers,” said Steve Smiley, head coach. “We had 15 tonight, they had 10, that’s five more possessions they get. Guys just got to take care of the ball.”
Reaves, who has come off the bench for UNC, decides to take matters into his own hands. Shaking Montana State defenders, hitting step backs and driving into seemingly nonexistent lanes to the rim, Reaves scored eight straight points as UNC fought back to a one-point deficit.
The previously deflated Bank of Colorado Arena crowd roars as the Montana State Bobcats are forced to take a time out, stopping the relentless onslaught of what would become one of Reaves’s best-scoring performances as a UNC Bear. He ends his night with a UNC team high of 21 points.
“We’re not surprised by what he does because we see it every day, you know, he’s super talented. He obviously brought it back for us in the last minute,” said Brock Wisne, UNC forward.
Wisne, as well as Saint Thomas, Riley Abercrombie and Jaron Rillie, willed their way to double-digit performances.
The tooth-and-nail game against the Bobcats, who were 11-12 coming into the game, had done everything they could to keep the Bears’ heads underwater. UNC only held the lead for seven minutes throughout the entire game. Battling back into the game was no easy feat with Montana State’s Robert Ford III Dropping 24 points, and Sam Lecholat with a wildly efficient 13 of his own. Coming down to the wire, UNC was able to hold it together and squeeze out the win, with a final score of 73-70.
“From a coaching standpoint you don’t panic,” Smiley said. “We were dead in the water, right? And to go from ten down, I was telling the guys we scored 80 points in 30 minutes against Portland State, so if were down 10 with eights minutes to go, it’s not the end of the world, but we better get on it. We can score crazy quickly, and they found a way to get that done tonight.”
This win over Montana State brings UNC’s record to 14–9 on the season and 7–3 in the Big Sky conference, as well as splitting the series with Montana State with one win a piece.