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Vandal men's basketball continues to take lumps

Jan. 28—MOSCOW — The Idaho men's basketball team recorded its seventh consecutive loss following an 89-68 decision to Big Sky Conference opponent Northern Colorado on Saturday at the ICCU Arena.

The Vandals have had a losing streak of six or more games in each of the last six seasons.

Saturday's game went by the book for the youthful and inexperienced Vandals, closing out the first half on a 15-3 run to pull themselves to within 43-39 at the break.

The Vandals (7-13, 1-6) were going tit-for-tat with the Bears (12-8, 5-2) to begin the second half, and after junior forward Kyson Rose converted a 3-pointer with 12:59 remaining in regulation, Idaho was behind 55-54.

That's as close as Idaho would get the rest of the way, as Northern Colorado responded with a 21-4 run that lasted more than five minutes to take a 76-58 advantage.

"Lots of lessons to learn, especially on the back end of a tough loss against Northern Arizona," Idaho men's basketball coach Alex Pribble said. "They showed a lot of resilience, especially after being down 14. That's the kind of character we need to show. That's a young group that believes, and it's showing in how we start games. ... Give a lot of credit to Northern Colorado; they're a really talented and gifted offensive team."

Here are some takeaways from Saturday's contest:

Clawing its way back

Northern Colorado's Riley Abercrombie hit a corner 3 with 5:25 remaining in the first half to extend its lead to 38-24. He finished with 12 points.

Abercrombie's triple elevated the Bears' run to 8-0, and they were starting to separate.

Instead, the Vandals responded by going on a 10-0 spurt to bring themselves within 38-34 with 2:15 remaining in the first half.

Idaho junior forward Terren Frank recorded seven points during the run and was 3-of-4 from the floor.

The Vandals' sixth man was a spark off the bench and finished with 13 points in 17 minutes.

A Saint Thomas layup with 1:32 remaining in the first half ended the UI run. But Frank made back-to-back baskets to pull Idaho within 40-39 with 54 seconds left in the half.

"Frank has been fantastic," Pribble said. "He's been very consistent and has been putting a lot of good practices together. He's got a great basketball IQ, and he's able to knock down some shots."

Quinn Denker (13 points) and Tyler Linhardt (10) were also in double figures for the Vandals.

"We're having some individuals that are having good nights," Pribble said. "But for us to get better, we need five guys to play well together at the same time. We need to get more players to play at their best consistently."

When the wheels started to fall off

After Rose's 3-pointer brought the Vandals to within one point, they struggled to find a rhythm against the Big Sky's top-scoring offense.

A Thomas layup with 9:08 remaining in regulation capped off a 14-1 run that put the Bears in front 70-50. UNC's spurt lasted longer than three minutes, and it was 8-for-9 from the floor.

"They're a great team," Pribble said. "We gave up 89 points, and they averaged 85. They can shoot the 3 well, and they're also very smart. All five guys can pass it, and they have a lot of guys that can hurt you."

Players of the game/stats of note

Northern Colorado outscored Idaho 40-26 in the paint. The Bears also outrebounded the Vandals 38-21.

Idaho had nine assists compared to UNC's 20.

Northern Colorado's Thomas added 13 rebounds to go along with his 20 points.

Dejour Reaves tacked on an additional 20 points for the Bears.

The Vandals were paced by Denker's 14 points. He also had six assists.

NORTHERN COLORADO (12-8, 5-2)

Thomas 8-17 2-2 20, Wisne 6-7 0-0 13, Abercrombie 5-7 0-0 12, Rillie 4-6 0-0 9, Bloch 2-4 0-0 5, Reaves 7-10 0-0 18, Reynolds 2-4 2-2 6, Hughes 1-2 0-0 2, Creech 0-0 2-2 2, Ramirez 1-1 0-0 2, Cameron 0-2 0-0 0, McCreary 0-2 0-0 0, Page 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 36-63 6-6 89.

IDAHO (7-13, 1-6)

Denker 6-11 0-0 14, Linhardt 3-7 2-2 10, Minnis 3-9 0-0 9, Blassingame 2-4 0-0 4, Mims 1-1 1-2 4, Frank 5-11 1-2 13, Rose 2-3 0-0 5, Gonzalez 2-4 1-2 5, Hardy 2-4 0-0 4, Yearout 0-2 0-0 0, Neal 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-56 5-8 68.

Halftime — UNC 43-39. 3-point goals — UNC 11-27 (Reaves 4-5, Abercrombie 2-4, Thomas 2-8, Wisne 1-1, Rillie 1-2, Bloch 1-3, McCreary 0-1, Page 0-1, Cameron 0-2); Idaho 11-25 (Minnis 3-5, Linhardt 2-3, Frank 2-4, Denker 2-5, Mims 1-1, Rose 1-2, Yearout 0-1, Hardy 0-1, Gonzalez 0-1, Blassingame 0-2). Rebounds — UNC 38 (Thomas 13); Idaho 21 (Denker, Linhardt, Mims, Gonzalez, Neal 3) Assists — UNC 20 (Thomas 8); Idaho 8 (Denker 6). Total fouls — UNC 9, Idaho 10. Attendance — 1,754

Pixley may be contacted at tpixley@lmtribune.com, (208) 848-2268 or on Twitter @TreebTalks.