NAU can’t keep up with Northern Colorado

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Northern Arizona struggled early and couldn’t catch up to Northern Colorado on Thursday in a 74-59 loss.

Tate Unruh led the Bears in scoring with 24 points, and Derrick Barden added 21. The Lumberjacks were led by freshman Kris Yanku, who had 22 points.

"Credit Northern Colorado — they were focused and they came in and made some tough shots," said NAU coach Jack Murphy. "The group at the end of the last six minutes played really hard, but overall it is an unacceptable effort, and we have to correct these mistakes before we face North Dakota."

NAU (11-15, 8-7 Big Sky) couldn’t find the basket to start the game as Northern Colorado (16-8, 10-5 Big Sky) opened on a 12-2 run. The teams exchanged buckets from there before NAU was able to string together some stops and points toward the end of the half, cutting the lead to five. However, Northern Colorado responded with a run of its own to go into halftime with a 38-28 advantage.

Despite Yanku’s efforts, the Lumberjacks would not get any closer than 10 points in the second half, as the Bears shot nearly 70 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes.

For the game, NAU shot 47.8 percent from the floor but a mere 25 percent from long range.

"We have to get buckled again," said Yanku. "We have to keep people off the 3-point line, because that’s where we got hurt tonight. We have to play better defense, because that’s the biggest issue for us right now."

Tim Hukisson added 10 points for Northern Colorado, which shot 61.7 percent from the floor and 61.1 percent from 3-point range.