Northern Colorado (17-12) vs. Northern Arizona (15-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 13, 6:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dee Events Center (11,500) -- Ogden, Utah. Television: None. Home Record: UNC 13-2, NAU 9-4. Away Record: UNC 4-10, NAU 6-10. Neutral Record: UNC 0-0, NAU 0-2. Conference Record: UNC 11-9, NAU 12-8. Series Record: Northern Colorado leads, 12-8.
GAME NOTES: The Northern Colorado Bears came through with a victory in their final game of the regular season to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament.
Their reward is a battle with the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, a team the Bears have dominated the last three seasons.
The Bears, who are seeded sixth for today's matchup, have won seven of the last eight meetings against the Lumberjacks. That includes a sweep of the two bouts this season by 15 points each time. The Bears had NAU's number in the final encounter on Feb. 20, a 74-59 road triumph. UNC shot 61.7 percent from the field and made 11 3-pointers to just two for the Lumberjacks. Tate Unruh tallied 24 points in that game for the Bears. He added 20 in the team's 87-72 triumph over the Lumberjacks on Jan. 23.
Northern Colorado snapped a four-game skid with a 77-52 win at Southern Utah last Saturday. Unruh scored 22 points and connected on 6-of-9 tries from 3- point range. Derrick Barden netted 17 points to go with six rebounds and four steals. Tevin Svihovec contributed 12 points in the winning effort.
The Bears, led by Barden (13.7 ppg), have four players averaging double figures. Unruh (12.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg), Tim Huskisson (10.9 ppg) and Svihovec (10.1 ppg) are huge contributors offensively for the Bears, who rank eighth in the country and first in the Big Sky in field goal percentage (.493).
The third-seeded Lumberjacks ended the regular season with the Big Sky's second-best scoring defense, allowing only 68.6 ppg. The Lumberjacks also were second in rebound margin (+3.1). Junior Quinton Upshur (15.8 ppg) leads the offense for the Lumberjacks, who have attained their highest seed in the tournament since 2008. Earlier this season, NAU broke Weber State's 27-game home winning streak, and now the Lumberjacks come into today's tilt on a four- game victory surge. That includes a 67-47 home win over Montana last Saturday. Upshur scored 14 points, and Ako Kaluna added 12 points for the Lumberjacks. Senior forward Max Jacobsen (12.1 ppg) and Aaseem Dixon (10.9 ppg), along with freshman Kris Yanku (9.6 ppg) are the key players at the offensive end. Jacobsen ranks 15th in the nation in field goal percentage (.588).
Barden shot a combined 11-of-15 beyond the arc against Northern Arizona. If the Lumberjacks can't contain the 6-foot-5 senior, the Bears, the 2011 Big Sky tourney champs, may be playing again on Friday in the semifinals. NAU hasn't won this event since 2000.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Colorado 75, Northern Arizona 72
03/13 10:31:15 ET