Before leaving the Lone Star State, junior Khiarica Rasheed shined the brightest inside Sharp Gym on Sunday, posting a career-best game to lead the Northern Arizona women's basketball team past Houston Baptist on Sunday, 79-62. Rasheed scored 28 points on 11-for-19 shooting to help NAU (2-4) overcome a 10-point halftime deficit and snap a three-game losing streak.
Rasheed scored 18 of her 28 points in the second half and paced the Lumberjacks' 36-20 advantage in the paint. She also set new season-highs with eight rebounds and three assists and tied a career-high with three steals.
"Khia took over and she put the team on her back," said head coach Loree Payne. "She led the way through the second half. She hit big buckets and dominated the boards. But the stat that stands out the most outside of her 28 points is that she took four charges.
"Defensively she was a rock star, but it wasn't just Khia. We played so much better in the second half and when they were trying to take Khia away, other players hit big shots."
Just one day after NAU was victim to a commanding second half performance by Rice, the Lumberjacks turned the tables on the Huskies as they erased a 41-31 halftime deficit. NAU outscored Houston Baptist 23-11 in the third quarter and shot 65.4 percent (17 for 26) after halftime.
Redshirt junior Jacey Bailey scored eight of her 14 points in the second half, while redshirt junior Caitlin Malvar – who also tallied a game-high eight assists – scored all eight of her points following the intermission. Sophomore Regan Schenck netted six of her season-high nine points in the second half as well.
Along with redshirt sophomore Nina Radford, NAU had five players score eight or more points. The Lumberjacks shot a season-high 50.9 percent from the field and were 7 of 14 from behind the arc and 14 for 18 at the free throw line. They outrebounded the Huskies 34-26, and locked up Houston Baptist defensively in the second half. After Houston Baptist shot 53.6 percent in the first half, the home team's field goal percentage fell to 32.0 percent in the second.
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"We're still trying to figure out how to put together two halves – to start strong and finish strong," Payne said. "Normally we've been a first-half team, so today was different. But I feel like we're so close to putting it all together."
NAU fell behind quickly, 5-0, to start the game and trailed 14-7 before stringing together a 10-2 run in the final three and a half minutes of the first quarter. Although the Lumberjacks held a slim 17-16 edge going into the second period, the Huskies controlled the last 10 minutes heading into the half.
Houston Baptist made four three-pointers in the quarter and used a 9-0 run to break open a three-point game. The Huskies' run in less than two minutes opened up a 33-21 lead and they led by as much as 13 before taking a 41-31 advantage into the locker room.
Rasheed exerted her will early and often in the second half, scoring seven points during a 12-2 Lumberjack run that knotted the game up at 43-43 with 6:47 left in the third quarter. Even with a big third quarter, NAU still led by just two, 54-52, heading into the fourth.
The Huskies made just one of eight attempts from the floor in the first six minutes of the final period as NAU went on a 16-2 run.
NAU will have a full week off from competition until it hosts UC Davis on Sunday in the first half of a doubleheader in Prescott. The Lumberjacks and Aggies will tip-off at the Findlay Toyota Center at 12 p.m. ahead of the NAU men's basketball team's game versus Nebraska Omaha at 3 p.m.