The Northern Arizona women's basketball team cruised in the fourth quarter, outscoring Weber State 31-12 in the final 10 minutes and upended the Wildcats Saturday afternoon in the Dee Events Center.
Overcoming a nine-point deficit with eight minutes remaining, the Lumberjacks moved to 8-14 overall and 4-9 in the Big Sky Conference standings with the 75-64 road victory and eclipsed their overall win total from a year ago.
"Weber State came out ready to play and they hit some shots that they don't normally hit; they were playing really well together," Lumberjacks head coach Loree Payne said. "We were a little out-of-sync in the first half, and in the second half we were a completely different team. We identified where their scorers were and then we turned it on in the fourth quarter. That was huge for us."
The Lumberjacks recorded their first perfect 2-0 Big Sky road trip for the first time in nearly 14 years. The last time Northern Arizona swept a conference road trip in a week was Feb. 17 and 19, 2005, when the team defeated Montana State and Montana. The Lumberjacks then defeated Sacramento State the following week that year -- which marked the most recent time Northern Arizona won three straight road games overall prior to its current streak starting at Southern Utah on Jan. 28.
Khiarica Rasheed led the comeback charge for the Jacks, scoring 12 of her team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter. At one point during the game-altering 12-0 run, Rasheed scored on three straight possessions to help the her team erase a 58-49 deficit and never trail again.
"Our intensity on both sides of the floor wasn't there and we needed a spark," Rasheed said. "I felt like I needed to step up. We were passive. I decided to be more aggressive and we all came together because we felt like this was our game (to win)."
Rasheed's heroics – she shot 5 for 6 in the final 10 minutes – propelled her to her second-best scoring game of her career. She finished 8-for-12 shooting from the field overall, made all six of her free throws and grabbed nine rebounds. Rasheed also completed four three-point plays, all coming in the second half.
Behind Rasheed, Caitlin Malvar scored a season-high 17 points with four 3-point makes. Peyton Carroll added 16 and Kaleigh Paplow registered 10 giving. Playing on her birthday, Paplow moved into the program's top 10 scoring list at ninth all-time by the end of the game.
The 31 fourth-quarter points marked Northern Arizona's second-highest scoring quarter of the season. Weber State scored just six points in the final eight minutes of the game.
The Jacks shot 62.5 percent in the fourth quarter, while the Wildcats shot only 31.6 percent. For the game, NAU finished at 45.9 percent compared to Weber State's 40.0 clip.
NAU overcame a minus-eight margin in the turnover column by outrebounding Weber State, 46-30. The plus-16 rebounding margin was the largest of the season for the Lumberjacks. Paplow had 10 rebounds to notch her fourth double-double of the season.
The Lumberjacks trailed for the majority of the first 34 minutes of the game. Regan Schenck, coming off a season-best 23-point performance Thursday night, picked up right where she left off scoring two of NAU's first three baskets during a 6-3 game-opening Lumberjacks run. However, the Lumberjacks' early miscues – five turnovers – aided the Wildcats' 12-9 lead through the first six minutes.
Weber State took a 17-15 lead into the second quarter and never trailed on its way to a 32-27 halftime advantage. The Wildcats were particularly effective behind the arc, draining 5 of 9 3-pointers in the first half to keep the visitors from moving ahead despite eight first-half points each Carroll and Malvar.
After the half, Weber State cooled down at long range, making just 2 of 11 attempts.
A jumper by Paplow brought NAU within three, 39-36, with 6:26 left in the third quarter before Weber State blitzed NAU for three straight baskets in less than a minute to open up its first of two nine-point advantages, 45-36, before settling on a 52-44 lead to start the final period.
NAU will play five of its last seven games at home before the conference tournament, starting with Portland State on Thursday in the Walkup Skydome.
"We've been talking about starting and finishing games strong," Payne said. "That's been a theme to our season too. We started strong, went through some bumps and now our goal is to finish strong. For us to get these two wins against a very good Idaho State team and a Weber State team who plays incredibly hard and has talent, it was huge. We couldn't be in a better situation and now it's up to us to go out and play to our potential."
The Jacks and Vikings tip off at 7 p.m. Thursday. The game will be Northern Arizona's annual Play4Kay game and all fans are encouraged to wear pink for breast cancer awareness.
TRACK AND FIELD
The Lumberjacks wrapped up the final day of competition for both the Don Kirby Invitational and Iowa State Classic on Saturday.
"I am very pleased with how we competed in the variety of situations our athletes found themselves in this weekend," Michael Smith, director of cross country and track and field at NAU, said.
After a solid team performance by the men's throws team Friday at Don Kirby hosted by New Mexico, the Lumberjacks had a top-five finisher in the shot put competition. Junior Parker Joens placed first for the Jacks in the men's shot put and fourth overall on a 17.98-meter mark.
Joens was joined by freshman Jake Arnold (14th, 15.55m), sophomore William Beaudry (17th, 14.99m) and senior Brady Williams (19th, 14.90m) in the shot put.
Northern Arizona's Matilde Roe earned a 17th-place finish in the shot put at 13.78m. That mark was made on her third attempt and fell just short of her personal best of 13.88m set at Mountain T's last week.
Junior Helena McLeod placed 38th in the women's 60m dash qualifying round. Her time of 7.95 seconds earned her a close fourth-place finish in her heat/section.
Cameron Rayford set a new personal record in the men's triple jump for NAU, placing fourth with a mark of 15.21m. His previous personal best was 14.47m.
"As a group we took steps towards the things I emphasized this week throughout practice and leading up to our most important meet: conference," said new head jumps coach Matthew Harmeyer. "Cam's PR put an exclamation point to what this group is capable of doing the rest of the indoor season. Overall I am pleased with the weekend, we will evaluate and get back to work Monday."
NAU's Khalil Dorsey was sixth in the men's 60m hurdles finals with a time of 7.98.
The men's 60m dash saw both Dorsey and freshman Christopher Grant just barely missing out on the final round after Grant placed ninth (6.76 sec.) and Dorsey placed 14th (6.87 sec.) in the qualifying round. Grant's time was .01 short from qualifying, falling just below Southern Utah's Tre James's time of 7.65 seconds.
NAU's men's 4x400 team was 11th overall finishing in 3:27.06.
On the women's end of things the 4x400 team would place 18th overall. Sophomores Miracle Onyemaobi and Jada Jackson, along with senior Clarrisa Maxey and McLeod finished the event in 4:01.64.
Neither senior Jasmine Malone nor Jackson qualified for the final round of the women's 60m dash at Don Kirby. Malone's time of 7.75 seconds put her in 21st-place and Jackson's time of 7.76 seconds put her in 22nd-place in the qualifying round.
Onyemaobi also placed 18th in the women's 400m dash (57.83 sec.).
Aldo Marquez set a new PR in the men's mile for the Lumberjacks. He placed sixth with time of 4:16.04 to beat his previous record of 4:24.06 set at Mountain T's. Freshman teammate Collin Ullrich placed 12th after crossing the finish line at 4:23.45; Ullrich also set a new PR beating his previous best of 4:30.88 that was also set at Mountain T's last weekend. Tulane's Emmanuel Rotich won the men's mile at 4:09.18.
Northern Arizona redshirt junior Shannon Molvin added to her impressive weekend by placing eighth in the women's mile. Molvin clocked a 5:12.39, obliterating her previous top time 5:24.96 set earlier this season. Much like the first day of the Don Kirby Invite teammate and fellow redshirt-junior Mikayla Malaspina had a great performance in the same event as Molvin. Malaspina placed 11th with a time of 5:15.21. Junior Zoe Wall was not far behind in 16th-place (5:20.9) and freshman Abby Riordan would place 21st (5:27.35). Wall was just short of her personal best of 5:18.65 set at the 2018 Desert Heat Classic.
Across the country in Ames NAU had a few more members of the men's and women's distance squads got the opportunity to perform on the national stage. Sophomores Pipi Eitel and Hannah Behunin left it all out on the track after leading the Jacks in the women's mile. Eitel placed 10th at 4:49.60 and Behunin placed 11th at 4:49.60. Eitel beat her personal record of 5:09.37 set at Friday Night Duals in January; Behunin also broke past her own personal best mile of 4:58.16 set at the 2018 Desert Heat Classic meet. The pair of sophomores saw fellow underclassmen Jesselyn Bries (freshman) and Delaney Rasmussen (sophomore) both run the mile as well. Bries would set a new personal record after finishing 18th (4:51.01) beating her previous mark of 5:06.76 set last week during Mountain T's. Freshman Emma Sjolund would also place in the mile (27th, 4:55.64).
Senior Maggie Carruth placed 13th in the women's 800m race. She would end the race in 2:08.95.
For the men's 800m race NAU had junior Ryan Lanley lace up as the only Lumberjack runner in that event. Lanley would see his efforts earn him a 14th-place finish at 1:50.68.
"The basics are in place for us to be at our best in the coming weeks," Smith said. "I am looking forward to continuing our momentum forward."