Derrick Barden had 18 points and 10 rebounds as Northern Colorado clinched a spot in the Big Sky tournament with a 66-58 victory over Southern Utah on Thursday night.
The Bears (12-17, 10-10 Big Sky), who wrapped up their regular season, are in fourth place in the conference and can finish no lower than fifth once the remaining Big Sky teams conclude their season on Saturday. The top seven teams advance to the conference tournament.
Tevin Svihovec added 14 points for Northern Colorado, Tate Unruh had 13 and Connor Osborne 11. The Bears shot 50 percent overall despite making just 3 of 15 3-pointers. They were 17 of 26 from the free-throw line compared to 4-of-6 foul shooting for Southern Utah.
Jackson Stevenett had 25 points for the Thunderbirds (11-18, 8-11), who conclude the regular season Saturday at North Dakota and are still fighting for one of the remaining spots in the Big Sky tournament.