MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Derrick Barden had 16 points and 17 rebounds as Northern Colorado stunned Kansas State 60-58 in Friday night's season opener.
The Bears only went 3-for-8 from the free throw line in the game's last 52 seconds, but an equally sour performance from the Wildcats gave them the edge.Wesley Iwundu had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and D.J. Johnson had 12 points and 9 rebounds for the Wildcats.The last opening loss for the Wildcats came Nov. 23, 2002 against BYU and it was the first season opening loss at home in nearly 20 years.Having lost Rodney McGruder to graduation and Angel Rodriguez to a postseason transfer, the defending Big 12 regular season champions were in need of quick answers.The ownership fell on the shoulders of guards Shane Southwell and Will Spradling. They finished 4-of-22 from the field including a 2-of-12 from 3-point range.It was a rough start for the Wildcats as they went 1-for-6 from the free throw line through the first 1:32 of the contest.The Wildcats built a 29-17 edge with 2:17 left in the first half, but a rebounding edge kept the Bears in it despite the double-digit deficit.Free throw shooting was a struggle for the Wildcats as they finished 16-of-33 from the charity stripe. Kansas State was 2-of-19 from behind the 3-point line.The Wildcats were also without the services of forward Thomas Gipson. After being kept out of the gym in last Friday night's exhibition win, he was in the building but didn't see the floor.The Bears beat the Wildcats on the boards 49-40. The margin included 13 offensive rebounds for the Bears.The Bears were picked to finish fourth in the preseason Big Sky rankings. All five starters returned from last season's 12-17 squad.Wesley Iwundu's 10 points out-shadowed a porous shooting performance from Kansas State in the first half. The Wildcats shot 31 percent on 11-of-32 shooting from the field.