Northern Colorado provided fans with a reason for optimism earlier this week by hanging with No. 8 Arizona well into the second half on the road in Tucson, Ariz.
The injury-depleted Bears, who play Washington State on Saturday in Pullman, Wash., ran out of opportunities in the end against the Wildcats as Arizona outscored them 30-9 at the end of Wednesday’s 101-76 loss.
Northern Colorado did not have Dalton Knecht (undisclosed injury), and Matt Johnson, who had 18 points, left toward the end of the game with cramps. Johnson will play against Washington State. Knecht, averaging 9.1 points and 4.6 rebounds, is questionable.
“I’m just really proud of our guys,” Northern Colorado coach Steve Smiley said. “That one stretch (in the second half) we missed several free throws, and they started cooking a little bit. That’s where it separated.”
Daylen Kountz led Northern Colorado (6-6) with a career-high 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting from the field. Kountz made 4 of 5 shots from 3-point range and converted all five of his free-throw attempts.
Johnson’s 3-pointer with 11 minutes left in the game made it a four-point game before Arizona took control.
Meanwhile, Washington State (7-4) blew an 18-point lead in the second half at home Wednesday night, losing to New Mexico State 64-61.
“Another tough, close loss for us — I hope that’s not becoming a habit,” said Washington State coach Kyle Smith, whose team’s four losses to Eastern Washington, USC, South Dakota State, and New Mexico State have been by five points or less.
“New Mexico State was the tougher team, especially in the second half. They rallied and kept competing and we played tentatively.”
Three of Washington State’s nine field goals made in the second half came in the first 2:09. From there, the Cougars shot 28.6 percent (6-of-21).
Michael Flowers, who scored 15 against New Mexico State, is averaging 14.8 points over the last five games for Washington State, which will play its last home non-conference game of the season.
–Field Level Media