Daylen Kountz, a graduate student at the University of Northern Colorado, made a 3-pointer from the corner to put the Bears within two points. The Bank of Colorado Arena was electric. Then, in the game’s last minutes, Eastern Washington went on a run, scoring eight points without surrendering any momentum.
It appeared to be a contest in which the Bears may prevail, particularly in light of Kountz’s shot from the corner. That is not what took place at all. Again.
In a game with a lot going for it, UNC (6-13, 1-6 Big Sky) was defeated by Eastern Washington (13-7, 7-0 Big Sky) by a score of 83-75. Eastern Washington was the winner.
According to the head coach of the UNC football team, Steve Smiley, “I believed we were a couple plays away from really breaking through, and we didn’t quite get that done.” The performance of our three greatest players, Matt Johnson, Daylen Kountz, and Dalton Knecht, was outstanding. That is grounds for optimism, given that we haven’t seen much of that this year.
Knecht and Kountz each finished with four field goals from beyond the arc, contributing to their respective totals of approximately 20 points scored. This entire season, Kountz has not scored four three-pointers at all. Johnson contributed 18 points, including a flawless performance from the free throw line, where he went 5 for 5.
Additionally, the Bears were victorious in reclaiming 11 offensive rebounds, which resulted in seven points scored at the next opportunity. This season, they have just once finished with more o-boards than their opponent, and that was on January 5 versus Montana.
In terms of the defensive strategy, Smiley explained that the team had to decide whether to battle Eastern from the post or the downtown area. It decided to bring the battle inside.
The Eagles ended the game with 50 points scored inside the paint. Despite the inconsistent play that UNC has displayed in the front court, Smiley does not regret making that selection.
In the Big Sky Conference, teams have not achieved what Northern Colorado was able to do: hold the Eagles to only four 3-pointers. Additionally, one of the baskets was scored against the zone defense. So, indeed, the loss is painful, but Smiley isn’t freaking out or getting angry about it.
“Shoot, we held Angelo Allegri to nine points,” he added. He is now ranked among the top scorers in the league. This is because he did not make three. You must be willing to give and take because the top teams can find a million ways to beat you.
Turnovers, fouls, and a prolonged scoring drought were the primary contributors to the team’s poor performance, all of which have been issues during the whole season.
As an illustration, the youngster Brock Wine had positioned under the hoop and had the opportunity to attempt a layup. He gave up possession of the ball by kicking it to the edge of the playing field. The other players either made clumsy passes or lost control of the ball while dribbling.
Then, with less than a minute left in the first half, the Bears went more than four minutes without scoring a basket. In the second half, there were several dry spells of two to three minutes each. These are challenging for a club that is working to improve its defense but isn’t necessarily known for having a reason that can lock down opponents.
Kountz said, “We could do it on certain possessions, but we want to thread possessions together, not simply do it one time and applaud.” Although they could accomplish it on some possessions, they wanted to string possessions together. “We must make sure that we are doing it time after time, possession by possession,” said the leader.
Smiley expressed the same sentiments as well. The most effective route to scoring for a club whose primary focus is on offense is through the solid defense, which has been a persistent obstacle.
With an average of almost 78 points allowed each contest, the Bears have the worst-scoring defense in the league. To provide the offense with the best chance to get rolling, they must demonstrate tenacity on the defensive end.
According to Smiley, “it’s difficult to score against a set defense, so if we get more stops — we did not get enough stops, clearly — we play in transition.” Then, when they play outside in the open, those players are so good because of how good they are.
Saturday evening at 6 o’clock marks the Bears’ return to their home field for Alumni Night. They have a matchup against Idaho, who currently holds the league record of 2-5.
Notable statistics were compiled during the match.
Daylen Kountz: 21 PTS, 3 REB, 4 AST
Dalton Knecht: 23 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST
The University of North Carolina shot 27-65 from the field, 30-12 from beyond the arc, and 9-12 from the free throw line.
Other stats for UNC are as follows: 32 defensive rebounds (11 offensive and defensive rebounds), 14 foul and defensive rebounds, 14 defensive tackles, and five defensive backs.
The shooting percentages for Eastern Washington were 33-55 for field goals, 4-14 for three-pointers, and 13-18 from the free-throw line.
In addition, there are the following for Eastern Washington: 32 REB (3 OREB), 19 AST, 9 TO, and 9 STL.