GAME NOTES: One of two teams from the Big Sky Conference will surrender their 16th loss of the season on Thursday night, as the Northern Colorado Bears host the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
Not only is NAU in jeopardy of bowing for the 16th time on the season overall, the team is also on the verge of registering its 10th road defeat at this point as well. Over the weekend, the squad saw a two-game win streak come to an end in a 77-74 overtime affair versus Eastern Washington at home. With the setback the 'Jacks are now 6-8 in conference play, which pushes them to the bottom half of the standings.
As for the Bears, they too are struggling against the rest of the Big Sky with just five wins in 14 opportunities. However, the squad did score an 85-72 win over Montana State on the road last Saturday in order to snap a two-game slide.
The Bears lead the all-time series by a count of 9-8, although NAU came out victorious in the most recent meeting last month in a narrow 67-65 final in Flagstaff.
Northern Arizona came up short in the meeting with EWU at home in the Walkup Skydome over the weekend, even though Stallon Saldivar registered the very first triple-double in program history. Playing almost every minute of the overtime affair, Saldivar posted 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the 'Jacks in the losing cause. Also putting together a strong effort at the offensive end of the floor was Gabe Rogers with a game-high 25 points, followed by Michael Dunn with 10 points and seven boards before fouling out.
Over the course of 14 conference games, Rogers has stepped up with 18.9 ppg as he shoots better than 38 percent from 3-point range where he has accounted for 37 of the unit's 71 conversions. DeWayne Russell (13.3 ppg) and Max Jacobsen (11.1 ppg) have certainly been aided by the play of Saldivar (6.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg) who not only leads the group with his efforts on the glass, he has also delivered 83 assists.
Every starter for the Bears scored in double figures in the win over Montana State at Worthington Arena, led by Tevin Svihovec who dropped in 23 points on a near-perfect 9-of-11 shooting from the floor. The team as a whole made good on a masterful 61.7 percent overall, a staggering 72.2 percent in the second half alone. Tate Unruh tallied 15 points, Tim Huskisson 12 and both Connor Osborne and Derrick Barden 11 points, the latter clearing a game-high 11 rebounds as well.
Shooting a fantastic 47.9 percent from beyond the arc through 14 conference games, Unruh leads the team in scoring with 14.0 ppg and while Unruh is handling the action on the perimeter, Barden is forcing his way around in the paint where he has captured 10.0 rpg and is also responsible for 12.9 ppg as well. Svihovec (12.0 ppg) spurs the unit on with his 42 assists as the group produces 67.9 ppg, but at the same time is giving up 70.1 ppg.
Both of these teams can score the ball when everything is going right, but to drop a decision when someone records the first and only triple-double in school history is hard to figure out. So with that, go with the team that is enjoying the home cooking this week.
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