Jacob Davison was playing for the win.
The Eastern Washington senior drove the lane in the closing seconds with the game tied at 76, but instead coughed up the basketball.
With 1.8 seconds left, Davison compounded the turnover by immediately making an ill-advised reach-in foul, sending Northern Colorado guard Matt Johnson to the line.
Johnson hit both bonus free throws and the Bears knocked off the Eagles 78-76 on Thursday night at Butler-Hancock Athletic Center.
EWU (3-6, 2-2 Big Sky), which dropped its second straight game, appeared shocked by the sequence.
“It was isolation for Jacob to go one-on-one, but lost the ball,” EWU assistant coach TJ Lipold said.
“He knew they were in the bonus, but he said he fouled on instinct. That’s uncharacteristic of us.”
EWU clawed its way back from an 11-point second half deficit in a game that featured 10 lead changes and eight ties.
But Northern Colorado (8-6, 5-4), which led for nearly 30 minutes, took advantage of the Eagles’ late gifts.
EWU didn’t do itself many favors.
The Eagles shot 3-for-18 from 3-point range against the Big Sky’s best perimeter defensive team, and surrendered eight of the Bears’ 13 3s in the first half.
Northern Colorado made the most of its 12-7 offensive rebounding advantage.
“They killed us on the (offensive) boards,” Lipold said.
Both teams shot a respectable percentage (EWU 49%, Northern Colorado 46%), but EWU, which was cold from long range, had to get its points inside.
Junior forward Tanner Groves led EWU with 20 points and nine rebounds and 6-foot-7 forward Tyler Robertson added 16 for the Eagles, who outscored Northern Colorado 52-28 in the paint.
Kim Aiken Jr.’s jumper at at the 2:02 mark gave the Eagles a 76-74 lead, but the Eagles wouldn’t score again.
“That was a tough way to lose, especially after bouncing back the way we did,” Lipold said.
Johnson and Colorado transfer Daylen Kountz each had 22 points for the Bears, who face the Eagles again on Saturday.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.