Greeley, CO – This game promised to be intense and enjoyable, as both Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona went into the game tied for the top of the Big Sky Conference with 5-1 records, UNC was coming off big road win, 84-73 at Montana, and had a home winning streak of 9 games, and the NAU Lumberjacks, picked to finish seventh by coaches and media, had a four –game win streak.
The UNC Bears opened up the early lead 18-14 at the 12:00 mark of the first half and never looked back on their way to an 87-72 victory and the Big Sky conference lead.
Bear senior shooting guard, Tate Unruh, led UNC with 20 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the 3-point line and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line. Unruh is a savvy shooter who doesn’t look to drive much or create a shot, but can nail the open 3 off the screen or pass. He is currently shooting 39 percent on the season from behind the arc to go with over 91 percent at the charity stripe. His 12.6 points per game are second best on the team, to fellow –senior, Derrick Barden’s 13.6 points per game.
Barden plays the small forward position and uses his quickness and deceptive athleticism to make an impact. Barden rebounds at 8.5 per game and has decent range on his jumper, going 32 percent from 3-point range and over 57 percent from the field. Barden also displays nice poise and presence as a valuable player on a winning team would.
The Lumberjacks were not only victims to UNC hot-shooting, but also to their roster depth. NAU’s Quinton Upshur led all scorers with 32 but was the only Jack starter in double-figures. Senior Max Jacobsen, a forward, scored only four points and led the team with five rebounds, but didn’t have the post-presence to offset an opponent. He has a nice-looking, smooth jump shot, but didn’t get involved with the team’s offense. Defensively, Jacobsen played very smart. He doesn’t pick up dumb fouls and knows how to gain position.
Northern Colorado is now in its fourth week, third consecutive, in the Mid-Major Top 25, this week coming in at No. 15 (RPI 162). They also have an impressive win over Kansas State to open the season.