Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Iowa State holds off Northern Colorado, 90-82


— Iowa State set a school record with 16 3-pointers, but coach Fred Hoiberg was not elated as one might expect.

Hoiberg was too upset about his team's sloppy defense to pay much attention a new mark set on the offensive end of the floor.

Senior Chris Allen scored a season-high 23 points and Iowa State held off Northern Colorado 90-82 on Tuesday.

Melvin Ejim added 12 points and Tyrus McGee, Chris Babb and Scott Christopherson each chipped in with 11 for the Cyclones (3-1), who set a new school record by hitting 16 3-pointers. But Iowa State needed nearly all of those 3-point shots, as the winless Bears made the Cyclones work for their second straight win.

"We're fortunate to walk out of this game with a win," Hoiberg said. "We don't make shots at an unbelievable clip (Tuesday night), we get beat. We're sitting here very disappointed in ourselves for not finding a way to bury a team that you have to take out."

Northern Colorado (0-4), which shot 49 percent from the floor, got within 85-79 in the final 90 seconds. Babb grabbed an errant 3-pointer and Allen hit three free throws to seal a win that was closer than expected.

Tim Huskisson had 16 points to lead Northern Colorado, which also gave Northern Iowa trouble before losing 78-69 on Sunday.

The Cyclones led by 13 at halftime despite a spotty defensive effort. They appeared ready to blow the game open to start the second half, but Iowa State let the Bears make a run early in the second half to pull within 57-53.

Iowa State answered with 3-pointers from three different players; Allen, Christopherson and Babb, to pull back ahead 66-55. It was the eighth-straight made 3 for Babb dating back to Sunday's 92-60 win over Western Carolina.

That still wasn't enough to put away Northern Colorado though. Paul Garnica, its top offensive threat, shook off a scoreless first half with 15 quick points, including a 3 to pull the Bears as close as 79-73 with 6:33 left in the game.

Christopherson broke the old school record of 15 3-pointers, set against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, with 5:36 left. But the fact that the Bears, from the Big Sky, still had a chance in the closing moments was a troubling sign to Hoiberg.

"It's a defensive mentality that you have to have that I'm just not sure we have right now," Hoiberg said. "They exposed us. There's no doubt about that. At some point, you've got to find a way to buckle down and string together stops."

Iowa State didn't look particularly sharp on offense in the opening minutes, either.

Northern Colorado hung around early in the first half, managing to elicit a few groans from the crowd by weaving through the Cyclones for buckets that were easier than they probably should have been.

Still, Iowa State took its first double-digit lead, 37-27, on Royce White's layup and led by as much as 50-34 in the first half. White, who came in averaging a double-double, had 10 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four turnovers.

The Cyclones, thanks primarily to the defense of Allen, held Garnica scoreless in the opening 20 minutes as they jumped ahead 52-39.

Garnica finished with 15 points and Mike Proctor added 14 for the Bears.

"It was just more about us not buckling down and getting stops," White said. "They were hitting some tough shots also, but that's not a concern. We've just got to buckle down and get better at team defense."

After playing three home games against lower-division opponents and one on the road just 35 miles away, Iowa State's schedule gets a bit tougher over the next two weeks.

The Cyclones will play Providence and Rice at the South Padre Invitational on Friday and Saturday. They return home to face rival Northern Iowa on Nov. 30 before playing 15th-ranked Michigan on Dec. 3.

If Iowa State can't start defending to Hoiberg's liking, it could be a rough stretch.

"We need to grow on the defensive end of the floor. That's it," Hoiberg said. "Our offense is fine."


Kyle Sybesma 10 years, 6 months ago

If my Bears can play close with Big 12 teams then we should have another shot at back to back Big Sky Championships.

Thank you KU grad Tad Boyle for building this program.

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