Photo: Joe Rosga (#2) is greeted by coaches after hitting the game winner
University of Northern Colorado’s Jon’te Dotson hit a 3-point dagger to knot the contest at 70 apiece. That gave the Pioneers (5-6) 20 seconds to do the obvious – give the ball to Joe. Rosga got the ball, sized up his defender and dribbled above the top right arc as the clock ran down. In a single stroke, the ball found nothing but net as the clock hit 1 second, scoring three quarters of his point total (4) for the game on DU’s final shot.
Denver’s first half shooting was as icy as the 6 degree University Park neighborhood temperature. Shooting a miserable 30% at intermission, Denver trailed the University of Northern Colorado Bears (3-7) 28-24. Luckily, the Bears could only muster 40% shooting – so the game promised to be close.
Daniel Amigo ran into quick foul trouble in the first half with two quick foul calls and his time on the floor was limited – he eventually fouled out at 1:51 of the second half. The Bears had even more foul problems than Denver with three players fouling out of the contest – Jordan Davis, Ibrahim Sylla, and Kai Edwards. The Pioneers benefited in the second half with UNC in the penalty and hit 22-27 free throws (81.5%) for the game to move past the pesky Bears. And, 9-20 from beyond the arc (40.9%) didn’t hurt – especially Joe Rosga’s final stroke to knock out the UNC Bears.
All afternoon, it felt like Denver struggled with their lineup combinations to neutralize UNC’s driving offense and pesky defense. UNC’s backcourt of D.J. Miles and Chaz Glotta gave Denver fits with their speed and quickness. Denver played 11 deep and freshman Jake Krafka provided a big spark off the bench with 11 points and some critical free throws down the stretch. Abiola Akintola also added energy and size off the bench as well. Thomas Neff led DU with 15 and Jake Pemberton scored 11.
After the game, Rodney Billups said, “I am happy we won. We finally got that one in the books (first home win) in front of our fans and family.” On the Rosga game-winner, Billups talked about his thought process, “Let’s not take a timeout and let them (UNC) set up defense…let’s just play and grow up a little bit. Let’s just make a play. I am happy where we are.(6-5),” Billups secured his first win at Magness and the Pioneers moved above 500 for the first time this season.
Next game Monday at 7:00 PM MT vs Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Magness Arena.