After a slow start, the Northern Arizona women's basketball team battled back but ultimately could not break all the way through in a 65-54 loss to Colorado State Wednesday morning. Northern Arizona (4-3) cut a 17-point deficit down to as little as one in the third quarter in the matinee loss in Moby Arena.
"We spent a week working on getting good looks and I thought we did so today," said head coach Loree Payne. "But it was one of those games that we couldn't buy a bucket. I thought we played a very good game in every other category. It's one of those things where sometimes you make shots and sometimes you don't. Right now we're struggling with the confidence to take open shots and knock them down."
Freshman Regan Schenck led the rally attempt with all 11 of her points coming in the third quarter. Schenck drilled three 3-pointers in the quarter, helping the Lumberjacks trim an eight-point halftime deficit down to one. She was one of two Jacks in double-figures for the game, coming in behind Kaleigh Paplow's 15 points.
Facing Colorado State's 2-3 zone, NAU shot just 28.3 percent for the game.
Paplow, Schenck and sophomore Khiarica Rasheed each grabbed seven rebounds to pace NAU's season-best performance on the glass as the team recorded 41 rebounds. The visitors were still outrebounded, 45-41, by the Rams despite the effort.
Trailing by as much as 17 with four minutes remaining in the first half, the Lumberjacks closed the opening half with an 11-2 run spurred by six points from Paplow.
NAU shot just 1-for-12 in the first quarter and trailed 15-7 after 10 minutes of play. The Lumberjacks' field goal woes continued into the second quarter, with NAU missing eight of its first nine shots in the period. Meanwhile, the Rams struck quickly, opening with a 7-0 run that forced the Jacks into an early timeout.
Colorado State led 29-12 with 4:17 on the first-half clock before Rasheed knocked down a pair of free throws to start her team's half-closing run. Following a Paplow jumper right before the half expired, the Lumberjacks went into the locker room down 31-23.
While the Jacks relied on a 9-for-11 showing from the free-throw line to keep them in the game in the first half, they turned to the 3-point shot in the second to try to mount the comeback. NAU hit six of its eight 3s in the final 20 minutes and wound up shooting 40 percent from behind the arc. Schenck and redshirt sophomore Caitlin Malvar combined for five of the Lumberjacks' eight total triples.
Schenck's first of three treys capped a 9-2 quarter-opening run that brought NAU within 33-32 with 6:42 left in the third period. Colorado State pushed its lead back out to five, but Schenck's third three once again closed the deficit to one at 43-42 with a minute and a half left in the quarter.
The Lumberjacks remained within striking distance throughout the final period and twice got within two following 3s by senior Tate Tsingine and sophomore Lauren Orndoff. Another triple by Paplow closed NAU's deficit to 54-51 with three minutes remaining, but the Lumberjacks could not get any closer with the Rams immediately scoring on consecutive possessions to extend their lead to eight.
NAU finished an efficient 12-for-15 from the line and turned the ball over just 11 times – their second-lowest total of the season.
Colorado State shot 39.4 percent for the game and held off NAU by making 7-of-15 from the floor in the final quarter.
Northern Arizona will play its Walkup Skydome opener on Saturday at 2 p.m. versus New Mexico. The game will be the first game in an NAU doubleheader, with the men's basketball team hosting Utah Valley at 6 p.m. later that day.
SWIM AND DIVE
The swimming and diving program has added three athletes to the Lumberjacks family this past week. The inked athletes consist of two swimmers in Iliana Moore and Lainie Bell and one diver in Emily Luberto.
The Lumberjacks are set to lose six seniors this season -- three swimmers and three divers.
"We are excited about the first three commitments, but it's only the start for this recruiting class," Lumberjacks swimming coach Andy Johns said. "These girls are a great fit because they are all great students and great people and we are excited about them coming here and helping us win more championships in the future."
Moore is a swimmer out of Los Alamitos High school in Lakewood, California. She currently holds the record for her team in the 200 backstroke, 200 breaststroke, 200 IM, 400 IM, and 500 freestyle. Although her records cover multiple events, her main events are the breaststroke and individual medley.
"Moore is a very versatile swimmer that swims everything from the breaststroke, to the IM to freestyle. We expect that she will be able to come in and help us in different ways," Johns said.
Bell is a swimmer out of Druid Hills High School in Atlanta.
"Bell is a super talented swimmer, she has taken some time off and is now coming back," Johns said. "So we are excited about her potential in the backstroke and freestyle events."
The lone diving signee Luberto, is an Arizona native from Mountain Ridge High school in Phoenix. In Luberto's diving career her most memorable moment comes from the summer at the AAU National event when she accidentally slept through her alarm and missed warmups but was still able to finish second overall in the event.
"Emily is going to be a great addition to the program as she is an excellent athlete and an excellent student," NAU diving coach Nikki Huffman said. "As an Arizona native I have been able to see her dive multiple times over the past couple years, and she has been to multiple National qualifiers in the 1 meter, 3 meter, and platform and even was a national finalist. Luberto brings a lot of great experience, and we are lucky to have her."