The Northern Arizona women's basketball team has been searching for a spark plug, and it got two on Thursday.
Jacey Bailey had a double-double off the bench, Peyton Carroll got the start and added a career-high 18 points, and the Lumberjacks snapped a six-game losing skid with a 74-64 win over the Weber State Wildcats in the Walkup Skydome.
It was Bailey's first-ever double-double with the Lumberjacks as she ended the night with 24 points and 10 rebounds, both season highs. By the end of the first half, the sophomore had 12 points, just one shy of matching her previous season best.
Carroll had the best game of her season yet, ending with highs in points, minutes played (27) and field goals made (8 of 16).
"We needed a different look, so we put Peyton in the starting lineup and she responded really well today," said Lumberjacks head coach Loree Payne, who decided to put Carroll in the starting lineup in place of guard Regan Schenck to put some size on the floor against the Wildcats.
The Lumberjacks (5-7, 1-2 Big Sky Conference) started a thee-game homestand with the victory, while the Wildcats (3-10, 0-3) began a short stint of two away games with the loss still searching for their first conference victory of the season.
Bailey watched a 3-point attempt go in and out with 3:16 remaining in the game and her team ahead 63-56, but Schenck got the offensive rebound and Carroll turned the second chance into a made jumper. Bailey drained a 3 on her next attempt, putting Northern Arizona up 68-58 with 2:34 to play.
“As a team I think we had more chemistry on the court," Bailey said. "Personally, I’ve had a rough start to the season, but the team, the coaches all said they’ve always believed and I am glad to be back and to snap the streak.”
Caitlin Malvar had some key free throws down the stretch, helping hold off the Wildcats as she finished up with six points and five assists. It was Malvar's second straight night putting six on the scoreboard, but her struggles continued as she was 1 of 5 from the field all on 3s.
The Lumberjacks never trailed and used a 14-2 run that started in the first quarter and lasted into the second to pull away for a while. Bailey got the outburst going with a layup and Carroll had six points during the stretch that left the home team with a 23-10 lead.
Emily Drake paced the Wildcats with 24 points and seven rebounds. Weber, coming off a fruitless three-game homestand, saw its losing streak increase to seven straight games.
Northern Arizona began the third quarter on a 7-0 run that started on a Carroll jumper and the Lumberjacks ended up with their largest lead of the night at 17 points with 7:48 on the clock.
Even though Bailey and Carroll kept the offense firing, the Lumberjacks shared the ball plenty. Lauren Orndoff recorded 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting and 3 of 6 from long range, and Kaleigh Paplow added six points and 12 boards.
With 4:23 on the clock in the second quarter and the Lumberjacks up 30-18, Orndoff, Bailey and Carroll each were at eight points.
"I believe as a team we play our best when we go with the flow rather than creating one-on-one options, and I think that's what we did. That's why we were open for 3s and easy layups," Bailey said.
Paplow stole the ball with just seconds remaining in the third period on a press play and handed it to Bailey for a buzzer-beating layup, helping the Lumberjacks avoid losing the quarter as both teams finished at 20. In fact, Weber, which allowed Northern Arizona to record its second straight game scoring 70 or more, stayed tough and tied the fourth quarter 19-all with the host.
Northern Arizona was 26 of 70 from the field and went 8 for 18 from behind the arc. Weber State was 4 of 20 from 3-point distance and 12 for 18 at the free-throw line, where Northern Arizona finished 14 of 18.
Northern Arizona hosts Idaho State on Saturday for a 2 p.m. game in the Skydome, playing its fourth game in a week's stretch.
"With Jacey, she finally settled in and played the way we knew she is capable of -- she can do that absolutely every night. She had been struggling, trying to find her way, find her rhythm but I am hoping this got her more confidence today to play the way she is capable of," Payne said.