MENâ€™S BASKETBALL KEEPS ITS CLOSE WITH FIRST-PLACE NORTHERN COLORADO BEFORE FALLING, 77-72
Sultan Toles-Bey scored a career-high 25 points to go along with eight assists and three steals
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Northern Colorado’s Devon Beitzel scored a game-high tying 25 points, and Elliott Lloyd knocked down four free throws during the final 25 seconds to help propel the Bears to a 77-72 victory over Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Thursday evening at the Nest.
Sacramento State, which trailed for nearly the entire game, found itself down a game-high 14 points (67-53) after Beitzel buried a three-pointer with 5:24 remaining in the contest. However, Sacramento State would go on a 19-8 run over the next 5:10 to cut the Bears’ lead to three points (75-72) with 14 seconds remaining. During the run, Sacramento State’s Sultan Toles-Bey led a personal assault with 14 points, including a pair of three-pointers, a jumper from just inside the arc, and six free throws. Junior Heath Hoffman scored five points during the spurt as he combined with Toles-Bey to score all 19 of the Hornets’ points during the run.
It was an off-balance Toles-Bey three-pointer that cut the deficit to three points with 14 seconds remaining. The Hornets immediately fouled Lloyd on the inbounds and he knocked down both free throws to increase the lead to five points with 13 seconds left. Sacramento State had one last look, but a Hoffman three-pointer fell off the mark and Lloyd grabbed the rebound to preserve the win. The Hornets had cut the lead to four points with 41 seconds left, but Lloyd responded with a pair of free throws on that occasion as well.
Sacramento State trailed by at least seven points the first 18 minutes and 14 seconds of the second half until a three-pointer from Toles-Bey cut the lead to six points with 1:46 left.
Northern Colorado (10-7, 6-0) remains the lone team in the Big Sky with an undefeated conference record as the Bears won their sixth straight game. In fact, the Bears haven’t lost since a non-conference defeat on Dec. 22. Northern Colorado had won each of its last three games during the winning streak by at least 14 points before settling for tonight’s five point victory.
Sacramento State dropped its ninth straight game while falling to 3-15 overall and 0-7 in the league. During the losing streak, the Hornets have lost three games in overtime, and two more that were decided by five points or less. The team is now 3-5 at home, which includes a 61-59 loss to a Montana State team that is 5-1 in conference.
Northern Colorado was proficient all evening from the perimeter, shooting 51.1 percent (24-47) from the field, 47.8 percent (11-23) from the three-point line and 75.0 percent (18-24) from the free throw line. The Bears shot 54.2 percent in the first half and entered halftime with a 39-30 lead. Northern Colorado held advantages in points in the paint (22-16), points off turnovers (19-13) and second-chance points (13-10).
Sacramento State shot 43.8 percent (21-48) from the field, 40.0 percent (10-25) from the three-point line and 74.1 percent (20-27) from the charity stripe. The two teams combined for 48 fouls (NC 25, SAC 23), including 27 of those fouls in a second half that saw the Hornets outscore the Bears, 42-38.
Beitzel, who is the Big Sky’s second leading scorer, increased his scoring average to 19.4 points per game with tonight’s performance. The senior connected on 8-of-13 from the field, 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and 6-of-6 from the free throw line while also adding four rebounds and four assists. Lloyd had 18 points, and combined with Beitzel to score 43 of Northern Colorado’s 77 points.
The loss overshadowed a brilliant performance from Toles-Bey, as the senior point guard finished with a career-high 25 points, including game highs in both assists (8) and steals (3) while playing all but four minutes. He connected on a career-high tying five three-pointers (in 10 attempts) and went 8-of-10 from the free throw line. Sophomore John Dickson, who was battling a bout of food poisoning, added a season-high 18 points and six rebounds before fouling out with 3:37 remaining in the contest. Dickson has now scored in double figures in all seven conference games and leads the team with 14.3 points per contest against Big Sky competition.
Hoffman, who started for the second time this season, added 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. The junior swingman is now averaging 10.0 points over his last three games after averaging just 3.0 points through his first 14 games of the season. Freshman Jackson Carbajal tallied eight points, and senior Duro Bjegovic chipped in six points, four rebounds and two steals. No other Hornet scored more than two points as junior Alpha N'Diaye posted a game-high tying six rebounds.
Sacramento State will play the second of its season-long three-game homestand this Saturday, Jan. 22, when the team welcomes Eastern Washington to the Nest for a 7:05 p.m. tip.