MOSCOW — Scott Blakney conveyed the mindset for Idaho by converting two jump-hooks in the first minute of play.

Tre’Shon Smoots later conveyed the mindset for Northern Colorado by converting three 3-pointers in a 65-second span.

Guess which mindset was more productive.

Getting outscored by 30 points from beyond the arc, the Vandals squandered an assertive performance by Blakney on Saturday and suffered their 11th consecutive loss to open their men’s basketball season, 75-61.

They showed improvement in this Big Sky game at spectator-free Memorial Gym, especially compared to two days earlier when they lost 74-54 to the same team.

But the disappointments keep coming. The Vandals are now 0-11 overall and 0-8 in league play.

“It’s never fun to be in a situation like this,” second-year coach Zac Claus said. “I know our kids are fighting like heck. They keep coming back for more.

“We have to improve. We have to get away from making the same mistakes. We have to quit making the same turnovers. We have to eliminate the same missed assignments defensively.”

That last deficiency was the operative one. The Vandals lacked the wherewithal to contain UNC’s guard-heavy lineup, which shot 11-for-25 from long range while holding Idaho to 1-for-10.

Smoots’ trio of 3s followed similar daggers by teammates Matt Johnson and Bodie Hume as the Bears quickly turned a five-point deficit into a 31-21 lead with six minutes left in the first half.

Blakney scored four points in the next 40 seconds as the Vandals clawed back to within 37-34 by halftime. But they never got closer.

“We’ve had moments,” Claus said. “We’ll take a punch to the head and bounce right back. For them (the Bears) to come out and hit three 3s in a row — the first one was a wide-open look that we didn’t contest. The other two, we weren’t in good enough help (mode) to rotate. It’s something we’ll continue to stress in practice.”

Blakney, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, finished with 23 points on 8-for-11 shooting, making 7 of 8 free throws. But he appeared to wear down as the Vandals fell behind by 16 points with eight minutes remaining.

Senior guard Damen Thacker added 13 points and three assists, but only three other Vandals mustered more than two points, and their reserve guards were especially quiet. Freshman forward Tanner Christensen came off the bench for seven points and six rebounds.

The Bears (7-6, 4-4) got 18 points from Johnson and 14 apiece from Smoots, Hume and Kur Jockuch.

N. COLORADO (7-6, 4-4)

Jockuch 5-7 4-4 14, Hume 6-12 0-0 14, Johnson 5-11 4-4 18, Kountz 4-11 0-1 9, Smoots 5-8 1-2 14, Bowie 1-4 1-2 4, McCobb 1-1 0-0 2, Hughes 0-2 0-0 0, Melvin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-56 10-13 75.

IDAHO (0-11, 0-8)

Blakney 8-11 7-8 23, Thiombane 2-5 2-2 6, Christmas 3-6 0-0 6, Quinnett 0-4 0-0 0, Thacker 4-9 4-4 13, Christensen 2-7 3-4 7, Garvin 1-2 0-0 2, Madden 0-1 2-2 2, Robinson 1-3 0-0 2, Kilgore 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-50 18-20 61.

Halftime: N. Colorado, 37-34. 3-Point Goals: N. Colorado 11-25 (Johnson 4-7, Smoots 3-6, Hume 2-7, Bowie 1-2, Kountz 1-3), Idaho 1-10 (Thacker 1-2, Christmas 0-1, Garvin 0-1, Kilgore 0-1, Robinson 0-1, Quinnett 0-2, Thiombane 0-2). Fouled Out: Thacker. Rebounds: N. Colorado 27 (Jockuch 7), Idaho 28 (Thiombane, Christensen 6). Assists: N. Colorado 13 (Smoots 4), Idaho 6 (Thacker 3). Total Fouls: N. Colorado 17, Idaho 16.

Grummert may be contacted at or at (208) 848-2290.