Bronchos Play Well, Come Up Short of Upset Over #1

The Bronchos fell to the Northwest Missouri Bearcats 84-79 Saturday afternoon, extending their losing streak to six games. The Bronchos move to 7-15 on the season and 4-9 in MIAA conference play.

The Bronchos fought hard but were unable to keep their early lead as the second half progressed into the final minutes as the Bearcats showed their championship pedigree, outscoring the Bronchos 50-43 in the second half after UCO led by two at halftime.

UCO took a 5-3 lead after the first 90 seconds of the game with good shooting from Dashon Bell and Cam Givens before a Diego Bernard three-pointer put the Bearcats ahead by one. 

The Bronchos continued to execute well on offense against the reigning national champions, taking a 15-10 lead with 14:30 left before halftime. Northwest Missouri quickly responded to even the game at 15 after a three and a steal leading to a layup by Tyler Dougherty. 

Carson Calavan provided an efficient start off of the bench for Bob Hoffman’s squad knocking down his first five shots from behind the arc, leading to 15 first half points. Freshman guard Justin Nimmer also came off the bench to convert a layup soon after checking into the game to move the score to 20-16 in favor of the Bronchos. 

Nimmer provided some insight into his recruiting process that ultimately led him to play for the Bronchos. “I had five to six Division II offers and took my time deciding but I liked what the (UCO) coaches had to offer as far as a plan for me and the program. They were real with me and laid out a plan that sat well with me and my family and I was excited to come here after that.”

Northwest Missouri’s Trevor Hudgins was playing lockdown defense in the first 10 minutes of the game, collecting three steals with two of them leading to Bearcat points. Hudgins finished the game with four steals.

Wes Dreamer’s layup with 5:18 left in the half saw the Bearcats take their second lead of the game before a D.J. Basey bucket on the following possession put UCO back ahead 27-26. 

The Bronchos took a 36-34 lead into the locker room sparked by Calavan’s hot start on offense. His 15 points led the Bronchos at halftime, followed by Cam Givens who scored seven and Dashawn McDowell’s six. 

McDowell, an Oklahoma City native and transfer from Southern Methodist University, spoke on his experience transferring and what he notices is different in Division II compared to Division I. “It is definitely different… not to say winning isn’t important anywhere you play but that’s really everything that is focused on in Division I. I like the atmosphere here at UCO and have a lot of different opportunities than I did at SMU.”

Northwest Missouri was led in scoring by Hudgins’ 12 and eight from Bernard. UCO took advantage of five missed free throws by the Bearcats to the Bronchos’ two. 

Hudgins started the second half scoring with a layup that leveled the game at 36 that was followed by a Bernard layup and free throw, prompting UCO to use a timeout with 18:13 left in the game. 

Colt Savage poured in a quick six points in the first five minutes of the second half to give UCO the lead at 44-41 before Basey extended their lead to five with a strong layup. 

UCO started the second half with 14 points in six minutes coming from four different players. The Bronchos average 14 points less per game than the Bearcats on the season but rose to the challenge of playing the number one team in the country, needing to perform better offensively than usual to have a fighting chance.

The score was tied at 53 with 10 minutes left following a Hudgins three-pointer to bring Northwest Missouri level. Following a timeout, UCO went ahead by two on a McDowell drive and layup.

UCO fell behind by six with 5:10 left following an offensive rebound and put-back layup from Ryan Hawkins. On the ensuing possession, Dashon Bell brought UCO back within four points to become the second Broncho in double figure scoring. 

Northwest Missouri hurt the Bronchos with improved shooting in the second half, shooting 68 percent from three-point range. A couple of Bearcat threes moved their lead to nine with 1:34 remaining in regulation. 

Givens hit two free throws to move the deficit to seven with just over a minute left which was followed by a jump-ball that gave the Bronchos possession, leading to a Calavan layup. The Bearcats missed a layup with 45 seconds left leading to a split pair of free throws from Calavan.

Calavan led the Bronchos in scoring with 18 points. 

Cam Givens hit a three following a missed one-and-one free throw opportunity to make it a one point game before two Bearcat free throws extended their lead to three. Cooper Clark fired a three with the final seconds ticking off the clock but was unable to convert, sealing the outcome in favor of the Bearcats.

The Bronchos will be back in action at Nebraska Kearney Thursday evening looking to end their losing streak and get back to their winning ways. The game will be streamable on and broadcasted on 1560 AM in Oklahoma.

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