GREELEY, Colo. (AP) – Jake Orchard scored 28 points and was 6 of 6 on 3-pointers, and Westminster, Utah, shocked Northern Colorado 73-60 on Thursday night.
Tanner Gregory added 11 points for Westminster, an NAIA school from Salt Lake City. The Griffins finished 12 of 25 from beyond the arc. On defense, Westminster forced 16 turnovers and turned them into 22 points.
Tate Unruh led Northern Colorado (2-5) with 16 points. Paul Garnica had 14 points for the Bears.
Northern Colorado has had to replace four starters from last year’s team, which won the regular-season and postseason Big Sky Conference titles and made its first NCAA tournament appearance.
Orchard had 13 points in the first half and Westminster forced 11 turnovers to build a 32-29 lead at halftime. Northern Colorado had an eight-point lead early in the game, but saw it disappear as Orchard heated up.
The Bears led 29-28 on Unruh’s jumper, but a layup by Ben Walker put Westminster up by three at the break.
While holding Northern Colorado scoreless for the first three minutes of the second half, 3-pointers by Orchard and Gregory extended the Griffins’ lead to 38-29. Mike Proctor ended the drought with two baskets as part of a 6-0 run that closed the gap to 38-35.
Orchard and his teammates never allowed the game to get closer. Alex Drecksel’s leaner put Westminster ahead 58-44 with 6:22 left.
Two free throws by Unruh cut the deficit to 66-57 with 1:59 left. Orchard’s rainbow jumper and two free throws by A.J. Reilly got the lead to 70-57 and sealed the win.
Northern Colorado was 14-0 at home a year ago and won both games on its home court in the Big Sky tournament.
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