Redshirt senior Kenna McDavis, who finished with 18 ponts and a career-high 15 rebounds, sent Thursday's Big Sky opener between the Northern Arizona women's basketball team and Montana into overtime with 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but the Lumberjacks ultimately fell 70-62.
NAU dropped to 3-9 overall.
"It was really a tale of two halves tonight," said head coach Loree Payne. "We came out and played within our systems. We shared the ball well in the first half, but in the second half turnovers hurt us again. Credit Montana, they played a great second half. They got some critical offensive rebounds and stops. This is what conference is about. There are going to be close games and we need to figure out how to put two halves together."
The Jacks led 50-29 with 3:39 left in the third quarter, but the Lady Griz stole the momentum with an 11-2 quarter-finishing run to cut their deficit to a dozen. The home team rode the wave, and a crowd of 2,662, into the fourth, scoring the first nine points to close within three at 52-49 with six minutes remaining in regulation.
A putback by junior Kaleigh Paplow made it 56-51 in favor of the Lumberjacks, only for Montana to convert on an and-1 to take its first lead of the ballgame, 58-56, with 30.8 seconds left. Following a timeout, McDavis banked in the game-tying shot from the elbow, which proved to be the final points of regulation after Montana missed the potential game-winner at the buzzer.
NAU edged in front, 62-60, on a jumper by sophomore Peyton Carroll with 2:10 remaining in overtime. The points would be NAU's last, with Montana tying it up at 62-62 on the ensuing possession at the charity stripe. Clinging to a 64-62 advantage, Montana converted an NAU turnover into a three-point play for the dagger with 14 seconds left and wound up hitting on its last four free throws to close the game.
NAU held Montana to 31.6 percent shooting for the game, in addition to holding the rebounding advantage at 49-43, but could not overcome 24 turnovers to just 10 by Montana. After posting just two points off turnovers in the first half, the Lady Griz outscored the Lumberjacks, 24-2, off miscues following the intermission.
The Lumberjacks received double-digit scoring efforts from their three captains, with redshirt senior Olivia Lucero and Paplow contributing 15 and 14 points respectively behind McDavis' 18. Lucero also added seven assists and six rebounds, while Paplow secured nine boards and dished out five assists.
McDavis spurred a wire-to-wire first half lead by the Jacks with a nifty spin move and finish on the opening possession. NAU started the game on a 12-3 run and led 21-12 after 10 minutes.
Montana could not find the basket in the second quarter as NAU locked down to hold Montana to just 2-of-17 shooting. With the Lady Griz going over six minutes without a point and nearly eight minutes without a field goal, the Lumberjacks poured it on with an offensive clinic. A 9-0 run gave NAU its largest lead of the first half at 35-16.
The rout appeared to be on when three of McDavis' four triples forced a Montana timeout four minutes into the second half, but the Lumberjacks made just five field goals in the game's final 18 minutes. NAU also shot just two free throws after the first quarter – which Lucero made for the first points of overtime.
NAU aims for its first conference win on Saturday in Bozeman versus Montana State at 2 p.m. The Lumberjacks will look to end their five-game losing skid, while also snapping the Bobcats' 30-game home win streak – the second-longest active streak in the nation.