The Northern Arizona women's basketball team was in control early and held on for the majority of the game, but Denver won the final six minutes to steal a win away from the Lumberjacks, 80-73, on Sunday. The Pioneers stole the victory out of the Lumberjacks' hands behind 29 offensive rebounds and 36 second-chance points, as NAU fell to 2-4 this season.
"The difference in this game was absolutely rebounding," said Lumberjacks head coach Loree Payne. "We got outworked and it came down to really committing to rebounding and boxing out. We didn't do that consistently today."
NAU led 15-2 to open the game and maintained that advantage until Denver took its first lead of the game, 69-67, with 5:17 remaining. The Pioneers scored the next five points to eventually push their advantage out to 74-67, and in total outscored the Lumberjacks by a 16-8 margin over the final six minutes of the game.
Denver shot just 30.5 percent for the afternoon, but its multitude of second and third-chance opportunities was enough to wrestle the game out of NAU's hands. After shooting 10 of 19 in the first quarter, the Lumberjacks made just 13 field goals the rest of the way to finish at 33.8 percent shooting overall.
Redshirt senior Kenna McDavis posted her second consecutive double-double, and third overall, with team-highs of 16 points and 13 rebounds. Redshirt senior Olivia Lucero added 15 points – including nine in the fourth quarter – and freshman Khiarica Rasheed totaled 10 points off the bench.
Denver's fourth-quarter run actually started a quarter earlier, as the Pioneers cut a 50-40 Lumberjack advantage to four, 56-52, by the end of the third. The home team then outscored the Lumberjacks, 28-17, in the final period to complete the comeback.
With Denver leading 74-67 with just over three minutes to play, Lucero knocked down a three to make it a four-point game. She followed with a tough jumper to bring the Lumberjacks within 74-72 with 1:32 left, but they could not get any closer. The Pioneers made 4 of 6 at the charity stripe in the final 20 seconds to ice the game.
A three-point barrage launched the Lumberjacks to a 15-2 advantage in the first four minutes and change. NAU connected on three triples to jump on Denver quickly, forcing the home team to call two timeouts to stem the tide. Although the Pioneers managed to cut the deficit in half to 28-21 by the end of the quarter, the Lumberjacks hit five three-pointers – their most in a quarter this season – with two coming off the bench from junior Tate Tsingine.
NAU led by as much as a dozen in the second quarter before Denver sliced the deficit in half to 42-36 going into halftime.
The Lumberjacks tied a season-best with nine three-pointers with McDavis knocking down three in addition to posting her fourth double-digit rebounding game of the season. While NAU was outrebounded 58-53 for the game, freshman Lauren Orndoff (nine) and junior Kaleigh Paplow (eight) also had solid games on the glass. For Orndoff, it marked a season-best with six of her nine boards coming on the offensive end.
NAU will host Arizona on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Rolle Activity Center in the first of three straight home games. It will mark the Wildcats' first trip to Flagstaff in two decades.