Redshirt senior Kenna McDavis was a force on both ends of the court, but the Northern Arizona women's basketball team fell to 0-2 on the young season with an 88-83 loss to Rice on Sunday.
McDavis set a new career high for the second consecutive game, scoring 27 points, and also tallied career bests of six blocks and three steals in the defeat.
McDavis' six blocks were the most by a Lumberjack since 2008, and she became the eighth player in school history to hit the number. She made five three-pointers for the second straight outing, hitting 5 of 11 from deep, while also pulling down eight rebounds.
However, despite McDavis' efforts and an offense that once again was effective, the Lumberjacks suffered a similar fate as Friday's 96-93 loss to UC Santa Barbara. NAU shot 46.9 percent, including 51.5 percent in the second half, but was hurt by Rice's three-point shooting. The Owls were hot from the start, hitting six three-pointers in the opening quarter and forcing the Jacks to play catch-up the rest of the way, and wound up 11 of 23 from behind the arc.
"We just have to figure out how to lock in defensively," said head coach Loree Payne. "We can't give up (29) points in the first quarter. That put us in a hole right from the start. We switched up our defense a little bit (at halftime), and our zone was pretty successful for us today. The game was probably lost in the first quarter, honestly, and that's something we need to change."
Trailing by as much as 15, the Lumberjacks made a series of runs at the Owls – who won the WBI last season – to get within a single point on three occasions, but could not forge ahead.
Junior Kaleigh Paplow made the game's opening bucket; however, the 2-0 lead was NAU's only advantage. Rice went on an ensuing 8-0 run, connecting on its first pair of threes, and another 9-0 run put NAU at its biggest deficit, 24-9, eight minutes in.
The Owls maintained a double-digit lead throughout the entire second quarter until freshman Kaprice Boston drained her first career three-pointer with just over a minute remaining in the first half. Coupled with an and-one, Boston accounted for six points during a half-ending 8-2 run by the Lumberjacks over the final 2:24 to slice Rice's lead to 45-38 going into the locker room.
NAU's first major run at Rice occurred early in the third quarter when NAU scored seven straight to close to 48-47. A 10-2 run by Rice, however, pushed its lead back to double-digits at 64-54 though and the visitors would lead by nine at the end of three periods.
McDavis netted 10 of her 27 points in the final quarter, but NAU's efforts came up short for the second straight game.
Sophomore Peyton Carroll posted her first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds while making 6-of-7 at the free throw line. Paplow and redshirt senior Olivia Lucero both added 13 points.
"Kenna, Olivia and Kaleigh are playing about 40 minutes, and at one point we had three freshmen on the floor," Payne said. "We're learning and the young ones are getting a lot of experience. We have a whole list of things we'll be working on this week to get ready for our next game."
NAU will play the host Hawai'i in Honolulu on Friday at 10 p.m. While in the islands, the Lumberjacks will also play Boise State next Sunday to wrap up the Bank of Hawai'i Classic.
The Northern Arizona University men's cross country team will enter Saturday's NCAA National Championships in Louisville, Ky. as the No. 1 team in the country, per the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Pre-Championship poll released Monday.
The Lumberjacks have held the top spot in the country for all eight weeks of the rankings this season, a program record for most time spent in the top spot during a year. Dating back to last season, NAU has held the No. 1 spot for a school record 14 consecutive weeks.
The men kept ahold of the No. 1 ranking after successfully defending their Mountain Regionals title on Friday. They bested six teams ranked in this week's national rankings to take home the regional crown, including No. 2 BYU, No. 5 Colorado and No. 8 Colorado State.
Northern Arizona received nine first place votes for 357 points overall. BYU (348 points), Syracuse (334), Portland (318) and Colorado (308) rounded out the nation's top five.
The Lumberjacks will look to defend their national title with the running of the NCAA National Championships on Saturday at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. The men's 10K race will take place at 9:45 a.m.