The Northern Arizona women's basketball team rediscovered its offensive rhythm to snap an eight-game losing streak on Saturday, defeating Southern Utah, 72-55, in Cedar City. The Lumberjacks also picked up their first true road win of the season, ending an 11-game road skid as well dating back to last season.
Now 5-18 overall and 2-10 in the Big Sky Conference, Northern Arizona shot 45.2 percent overall and 44.4 percent from 3-point range to avenge a 60-57 loss to Southern Utah in the Walkup Skydome last month. Both the Lumberjacks' field goal percentage and 3-point percentage were their best shooting performances in conference play.
After totaling just 15 assists in two games last week, NAU recorded 17 assists against just 10 turnovers. Olivia Lucero led the way with five assists, while Kaleigh Paplow, Tate Tsingine and Lauren Orndoff all recorded at least three.
Lucero also paced the Lumberjacks with 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting overall. She drained three 3s in her seventh 20-point game of the season. Lucero was one of four Lumberjacks in double-figures.
NAU missed its first five shots of the game, but soon after found its groove. After Lucero found Peyton Carroll to break the seal, the floodgates opened as NAU led 19-8 at the end of the first quarter.
An 8-0 NAU run provided the Lumberjacks with their largest lead of the first half, 35-19, with two minutes remaining before halftime. Lucero, Paplow and Carroll combined for 27 of NAU's 35 first-half points as the Lumberjacks went into the break with a 35-23 lead.
The Lumberjacks offense reached its peak immediately out of the locker room as they shot 60 percent (12 for 20) in the third quarter. Lucero was a perfect 5 for 5 from the field in scoring 11 of her game-high 24 points in the third, helping NAU match its most field goals made in a quarter this season.
Behind Lucero's 24 points, Paplow scored 13 points with Carroll and Tsingine both chipping in 10 points apiece in reserve. Carroll and Tsingine notched their fifth and third double-digit scoring games of the season respectively, and helped NAU hold a 26-0 bench points advantage.
The Lumberjacks are home in the Skydome for the first time in the month of February this upcoming week. Northern Arizona hosts Northern Colorado next Thursday at 6:30 p.m. before hosting North Dakota next Saturday at 5 p.m.
TRACK AND FIELD
After setting three school records and running a top-two time in the nation on Friday, Northern Arizona's track and field team followed up with another new program mark.
Jasmine Malone ran a 53.71 in the 400-meter dash for the Lumberjacks as the teams concluded New Mexico's Don Kirby Invitational and the Iowa State Classic on Saturday afternoon.
It made for a total of four new school records for the weekend as Paige Gilchrist (5000m/15:45.76), Brooke Andersen (Weight Throw/21.95m) and Malone (200m/23.80) already set program marks in the opening day of the meets.
Malone setting two school records in two different events in two days is uncharted territory for most athletes.
"This was a historic weekend for Jasmine," said Lumberjacks associate head coach Kenny McDaniel. "She competed with a different mentality and her performances showed. She is confident and peaking at the right time, right now."
Ashley Taylor missed resetting her school record by just .32 seconds with a 2:04.85 performance in the 800m at the Iowa State Classic.
Khalil Dorsey was a force in both the 60m hurdle and 60m dash. The sophomore set a new personal best with a time of 6.81 in both the prelims and semifinals of the 60m and posted a top-five mark in school history with a 7.89 performance in the 60mH.
"Khalil had an impeccable day," McDaniel said. "He was clicking on all cylinders today. He competed in four races in less than two hours. I was impressed how he handled the races back-to-back."
Six athletes set personal bests in Iowa while 12 athletes hit new marks in New Mexico. As a unit the Lumberjacks set 30 new personal records over the weekend.
The Lumberjacks are back in action when they host the NAU Tune-Up on Friday, Feb. 16, at the Walkup Skydome.
Northern Arizona struggled with its shooting touch as it connected on just 16 of 56 shots from the field in a 63-54 loss to Southern Utah on Saturday afternoon at the Walkup Skydome.
The game was a physical affair that saw both teams have a hard time on the offensive end as they combined for 48 fouls and 35 turnovers, while connecting on just 33 field goals over the 40 minutes of action.
Southern Utah limited NAU to just a 7 of 29 performance from the field in the second half as it outscored the Lumberjacks 33-25 over the final 20 minutes to close out the victory. The Lumberjacks did not make a field goal for the initial 7:55 of the second half.
"We took some poor shots and I thought our offensive decision making to start the game was poor, but our effort was there," said Lumberjacks head coach Jack Murphy. "We did enough on the defensive end to win the game, but Southern Utah made eight 3-pointers and we made one. It comes down to making shots."
The setback marks the Jacks fourth straight overall and drops their season record to 4-21 and 1-11 in Big Sky action. Southern Utah swept the season series with the win and saw its record move to 10-13 overall and 4-8 in conference play.
The first half was tightly contested, as it featured a total of five ties and 12 lead changes. Southern Utah broke through first as it ran out to a 21-12 lead before the Lumberjacks answered with a 10-0 spurt to take their largest lead of the game at 26-23 with three minutes left before the break.
The Lumberjacks never led after holding a 29-27 advantage with two ticks left in the first half, as Jamal Aytes put the Thunderbirds in front for good with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from 60-feet out to send Southern Utah into the locker room with a 30-29 lead.
Corey Brown was the lone player to post double-figure points for Northern Arizona. He tallied a game-best 14 on 6-of-8 shooting to go along with six rebounds. Sophomore Brooks DeBisschop pulled down 11 boards to lead all players, -- which marked his sixth game with double-digit rebounds this season.
Southern Utah had a total of four players post double-digits in the scoring column and was led by Brandon Better's team-high 13. Aytes and James McGee tallied 12 each while Dwayne Morgan added 10 in the win.
The Lumberjacks will return to action next week with the first of a pair of road games on Thursday at Northern Colorado in a 7 p.m. tip. It will mark the first meeting between the Lumberjacks and Bears this season.