GREELEY – For the University of Northern Colorado, their match-up with CSU meant a little more.
The Rams fell to the Bears 70-63 in front of a packed, rowdy crowd at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion Tuesday night.
Taking advantage of the 3,192 fans and amped-up atmosphere, the Bears jumped out to an early 8-0 lead and the Rams were never able to recover.
UNC (7-0) sealed the victory by knocking down 11 of its final 13 free throw attempts after a gutsy CSU comeback.
The Rams stayed within two scores the majority of the second half after a very slow start in the first.
CSU (4-3) was held without a field goal for the opening seven minutes and 27 seconds, missing their first 10 shots.
The Rams only shot 26 percent in the first half and 35.2 percent for the game. CSU was also sloppy handling the ball, turning it over 20 times.
“You just can’t overcome that amount of turnovers and that slow of a start shooting and expect to win a lot of basketball games,” head coach Tim Miles said.
Freshman point guard Dorian Green led the Rams with 13 points but was limited in playing time as he is battling the stomach flu.
Will Figures led the Bears with 18 points from the bench, including 8-8 from the free throw line. A Colorado native, he understands the significance of beating an in-state rival.
“It’s always an in-state rivalry playing against these Colorado guys,” Figures said. “The arena was packed, it was loud and it was a good environment to be in.”
The arena became standing-room only with fans standing almost directly behind each team’s benches. Miles was impressed with the UNC crowd and hopes some day Moby Arena can see a crowd as amped up and excited for is home team.
“It’s great. It’s neat for UNC. It’s fun to be the villain coming in here. Maybe some day we’ll win some damn games and get Moby like this,” Miles said.
Junior forwards Andre McFarland and Travis Franklin each added 10 points for the Rams.
“It was a tough environment, but we expected that. They fed off the crowd. We started slow but fought back,” Franklin said.
The Rams have now fallen twice in the past three years to the Bears, both in Greeley. With the win, Northern Colorado is 7-0 for the first time since 1964.
CSU returns to the court against University of Denver on Saturday.
Men’s basketball beat reporter Stephen Meyers can be reached at email@example.com.