Northern Colorado used stellar second-half shooting to end Kansas State’s 47-game home non-conference winning streak with a 60-58 win on Friday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
The loss also snapped the Wildcats’ 19-game winning streak in home openers and was the first in a season opener since a 73-64 setback to BYU at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Nov. 23, 2002. The last defeat in a home opener came to Southern Miss, 74-60, on Nov. 27, 1993.
The Bears, who returned all five starters from a season ago, connected on 50 percent from the field in the second half to rally from a 29-24 deficit at halftime. Senior Derrick Barden led two players in double figures with game-highs in both points (16) and rebounds (17). The 17 rebounds were the most by a K-State opponent since Texas’ Dexter Pittman grabbed 20 on March 12, 2009.
“Obviously, it is very disappointing, you have to give credit to Northern Colorado,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “I told our guys since August that this would be a difficult game. I told them how important this first game was and that I wanted them to be prepared. We have a quote on our locker room wall that says, “what is greater your excuses or your desire?” We have too many excuses and not enough desire. They out-toughed us and out-competed us.”
K-State was led by freshman Wesley Iwundu, who scored a team-high 14 points and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds in his collegiate debut off the bench. Sophomore D.J. Johnson nearly recorded a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds in a career-best 36 minutes of action. Freshman Marcus Foster and senior Will Spradling each scored eight points, while senior Shane Southwell added seven points and a career-high eight assists.
The Wildcats struggled shooting the ball across the board, connecting on 33.9 percent (20-of-59) from field, including just 10.5 percent (2-of-19) from the 3-point line. The squad also missed 17 free throws, shooting just 48.5 percent (16-of-33) from the charity stripe.
K-State led the whole way in the first half, using a 10-3 run to stretch its lead to 25-15 with 3:30 remaining. However, the Bears responded with a 9-4 run to close within 29-24 at halftime. Neither team shot above 35 percent in the opening stanza, as Iwundu led all scorers with 10 points
Northern Colorado opened the second half with another scoring run, outscoring K-State 13-8 over the first seven minutes of the half to knot the score at 37-all. The Bears took their first lead of the game on a jumper from Tim Husskison with just under 12 minutes remaining.
The two teams traded buckets before Northern Colorado stretched the score to 51-45 on a pair of free throws by Husskison at the 7:16 mark. K-State responded with six straight points from Johnson, Southwell and senior Omari Lawrence, to tie the game a 51-51 with 5:37 left to play.
The Bears put together a 5-0 run over the next three minutes, leading 56-51 with 2:14 left on the clock. K-State trimmed the deficit to three points on a Southwell layup but was not able to convert from the foul line down the stretch, going just 3-for-7 over the final two minutes of the game.
A free throw from Tevin Svihovec with nine ticks remaining stretched the UNC’s lead to 60-56. Iwundu knocked down a short jumper to cut the lead to two points at the final buzzer.
In addition to Barden’s double-double, fellow senior Tate Unruh scored in double figures with 14 points for the Bears, while Jordan Wilson and Husskison added eight and seven points, respectively.
The 47-game winning streak dated back nearly six years to an overtime 80-77 loss to No. 17 Oregon on Nov. 29, 2007 and was just the second in a home opener at Bramlage Coliseum.
K-State returns to action on Wednesday, Nov. 13, as the Wildcats take on Oral Roberts at Bramlage Coliseum at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Kansas City.