Lumberjacks Chop Down Denver, 68-65

Two desperate teams met on Tuesday afternoon at Hamilton Gym. A combined 1-10 going into the game, the University of Denver Pioneers (1-6) played the (1-5) Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. Absent two front-line starters for the game, DU dropped the game 68-65 as Denver could not make critical stops or baskets down the stretch.

Drake Muller started in place of the injured Tristan Green. Center Robert Jones, Denver’s second-leading scorer, injured his right leg on the opening jump ball and Northern Arizona ran out to a quick 7-0 lead. Denver made a run of their own and knotted the game, 11-11, at 11:51. The teams traded buckets until a Sam Hines, Jr. short jumper gave Denver the lead, 23-21, with 5:56 left in the half. Later,  Javonni Bickham made a finger roll layup to put the pioneers up by 4 with 1:30 to play until half. Several buckets by NAU narrowed the score at the break to 31-30, Denver. Jase Townsend scored only two points for the Pioneers in the half and back-up center Frank Ryder paced Denver with 9 points. Cameron Shelton had 10 points for the visitors.

DU freshman Drake Muller opened the second half with two three-point shots to put Denver up, 37-30. Five quick fouls by DU in the second half put the Lumberjacks in the bonus at 12:32 and NAU extended their lead, 47-44. A Cameron Shelton layup extended the Lumberjacks lead, 51-46. A Sam Hines, Jr. driving bucket and one, pulled Denver within three, 55-52 with 6:58 to go. Jase Townsend pulled DU within one, 62-61 with 2:02 to play. Two free throws by DU’s Jase Townsend narrowed the score to 64-63 with 1:02 remaining. Northern Arizona countered by setting ball screens for their star Cameron Shelton to control the outcome of the game. Four made free throws by Shelton down the stretch kept the Lumberjacks in front by 3-points going down to the wire. A desperation 3-point shot by Sam Hines, Jr. from the right corner missed the mark as time expired. Final score, Northern Arizona University 68, Denver 65.

DU outshot NAU 50.2% to 40.4% but was pounded on the defensive glass where the Lumberjacks outrebounded DU 11-2. Denver had 12 turnovers to 8 for Northern Arizona. Shelton scored 27 points for the Lumberjacks and Jase Townsend finished with 16 points, 14 in the second half. Freshman Sam Hines Jr. continues to impress with 7 points and 13 rebounds. No doubt, DU struggled with the loss of their front line of Tristan Green and Robert Jones. Also, Frank Ryder missed time down the stretch when he reinjured his shoulder in the waning minutes of the game when his size and point production was most needed.

8 thoughts on “Lumberjacks Chop Down Denver, 68-65”

  1. Tough loss for the Pios. Hard enough for this DU team to win with a full lineup, and still almost pulled it out without Green, Jones and Ryder (in crunch time).

    For DU, it won’t get any easier this year than NAU, which was ranked #315 — as the last team DU will face that will be ranked in the same vicinity. Everyone else DU will play will be favored to beat the Pios till the end of the season.

    Let’s hope Jones and Green can come back soon, as there is not enough depth to overcome the loss of two starters….

    This has been a nightmare year for DU sports teams so far – men’s basketball is 1-6 with the only win coming over a DII team, hockey is 3-6-1, and women’s hoops is 2-5. That’s a combined record of 6-17-1. Ouch.

  2. DU is facing a tough 9-game stretch until they play North Dakota (#261 KenPom). Grand Canyon on the road and conference start against South Dakota, Oral Roberts, NDSU and South Dakota State are next – all will be tough games.

    1. So we are at a point, where Grand Canyon, South Dakota, Oral Roberts, and two directional dakota schools appear to be insurmountable behemoths. Nice.

  3. LOL, “tough 9-game stretch” … in the words of Clark Griswold, “Do you really think it matters, Eddie?” 🙂 This season is toast. Time to rip it all up and start again, hoping C-19 is cleared up, a new coach, and a fresh start. We may not be relevant for a year or two, but it would be nice to see a reboot and hope over the slow grind to the bottom.

  4. Another bummer loss in a very winnable game. Really feel for the players and very concerned for the program’s future. Fortunately, because of the pandemic most teams are getting a pass and hopefully this season can be swept under the rug and we can move on with a (hopefully) normal season next year

    1. Understandable about the virus and “because of the pandemic most teams are getting a pass.” But you can’t give DU a pass for the last five years. This program has been going straight downhill and no changes have been made. Excuses after excuses. Pathetic and embarrassing for DU.
      Too bad they can’t play Regis every game.

  5. the comment ” So we are at a point, where Grand Canyon, South Dakota, Oral Roberts, and two directional dakota schools appear to be insurmountable behemoths” Really sums it up

    Yes, a pass in many walks of life due to 2020-pandemic. But this is multiyear problem. No need to fire him mid season as its a crazy effed up time and no easy fix. But he does need to go.

    Also time to admit athletic should focus (money) on hockey (skiing, lax and gymnastics are nice and two of them can generate some revenue ) and just have the other programs be good STUDENT-athletes. No need to throw money at hoops as DU and all Universities are now heading into a multi-year budget problem

  6. Has anyone ever seen a D1 team get beat by damn near 40 and the winning team had only won 2 games this far? The article for this South Dakota state game could have been written and posted by halftime.

    Is it possible we cut this embarrasent “Coach” Billups loose and leave him in South Dakota and we get the players back safe so they can meet a competent head coach? Do we have to see this hot mess dumpster fire all the way through or can we simply admit this is too much and let go of this useless braindead coach before he finds even more ubthinkable ways to make a fool of himself while embarrassing our school and program? This guy has gotten WORSE every year. Pathetic.

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