The Northern Arizona women's golf team finished fifth at the Rose City Collegiate Tuesday behind the second-place finish of freshman Savana Bezdicek, who posted a team-best 76 in the final round.
Bezdicek shot rounds of 69, 78 and 76 for the two-day, three-round event. She finished five strokes back of medalist A Ram Choi of Portland State.
Bezdicek's round of 69 in the opening round tied the third-best round in school history and she became only the second freshman in school history post a score below 70.
NAU, ranked No. 69 in the GolfWeek rankings, posted a 313 team score in the third round, placing fifth overall in the team standings with a three-round score of 922.
The Lumberjacks finished ahead of all five Big Sky Conference teams in the field and No. 47 San Francisco and No. 53 Long Beach State.
Cal-State Fullerton won the event by four strokes over Oregon State with a 912. Second-round leader Seattle (917) and Boise State (919) were third and fourth, respectively.
Junior Kaitlen Parsons tied for 12th in the event after a five-over par 77 in the third round. Sophomore Darian Spivey carded an 81 Tuesday and tied for 26th overall. Sophomore Laura Jabczenski had an 82 in the final round, while senior Stephanie Kim posted a 79.
The Lumberjacks return to action at the Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate Oct. 13-14 in Palm Desert, Calif.
NAU hit the court for its first official practice with new head coach Sue Darling on Tuesday morning in Rolle Activity Center. The Lumberjacks return three starters and 10 letter winners for the 2012-13 season including seniors Aubrey Davis, Paige Haynes, Amy Patton, and Tyler Stephens-Jenkins.
"I thought we had great energy; the kids were ready to go and they were sharp from the beginning," Darling said. "They're really picking up on stuff so they've been a lot of fun to coach so far. They are very receptive to what we are trying to do and are very coachable."
The team is scheduled to conduct 24 practices and two closed scrimmages over the next five weeks in preparation for its season opener at New Mexico on Nov. 9 and its first home game against CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 12.
"I'm really excited after the first practice," said Patton, who enters her senior season third in program history in career scoring and just 280 points shy of the all-time scoring record. "It's something new and the team is ready to get started. All of us are on the same page and we are all going into the season wanting to make it the best year we have had."
Patton has led the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and minutes played in each of the last two seasons and has been among the most dynamic performers in the Big Sky through her first three years at NAU. She has recorded three of the ten highest singles season scoring totals in program history and also ranks among the all-time program leaders in three-pointers, rebounds and steals. But she and her fellow seniors have yet to experience the postseason, making a strong run in the Big Sky Championship the unquestioned goal in their final collegiate season.
NAU returns three more of its top five scorers from last season in Davis, Stephens-Jenkins and junior Amanda Frost, who ranked fourth in the Big Sky with a .360 three-point percentage last season in her first year at NAU.
Davis led the team with a .519 field goal percentage and 33 blocks last year while Stephens-Jenkins was fifth in scoring and fourth in rebounding.
With the talent of her new team apparent, Darling is ready to lead the Lumberjacks back to the postseason and beyond.
"We have good talent. The difference maker this year is going to be how hard we work," she said. "If we work hard we can win a few games, if we work hard and work together we're going to win a lot of games, and if we can work hard, work together, and work smart we can win the championship, and that's what we're heading for."
Editor's Note: NAU's Sports Information Department contributed to this roundup.