Mens Basketball Led by Cameron Jones to Win over Eastern Washington
CHENEY, Wash. – Junior
Cameron Jones scored the final five points in the game to give
Northern Arizona a 73-69 win over Eastern Washington for a key Big
Sky Conference road win Friday night at Reese Court.
Jones finished with a game-high 28 points, one short of his career high, recording his sixth game of 20 or more points on the season. He went 12-of-15 from the field and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds.
“I am happy for our guys,” said Adras. “It is a team to be proud of because alot has been said since we last played. We did not hang our heads. We responded. I give them respect because they want to learn and get better. We are a young team and we are getting better.”
NAU (8-9, 2-4 Big Sky) trailed 67-62 with 3:05 left in the game but finished with an 11-2 run to close the game to record their fourth road victory over the season.
“Julian Olubuyi really defended Glen Dean really well,” said Adras. “Give him credit. When we needed stops in the final three minutes we got them. We made some plays and big stops.”
Dean finished 5-of-12 from the field with 11 points. Benny Valentine led the Eagles with 14 points.
Junior Shane Johannsen tied the game at 67 with a three-point play on a put back of miss by Olubuyi. NAU then forced a turnover with steal by Olubuyi, who was fouled and hit one of two free throws. The Eagles took the lead back on a jumper my Mark Dunn with 44 seconds left but never scored again.
Jones scored on a layup with 31 seconds left to give NAU the lead at 70-69. He then grabbed his career-best ninth rebound off a miss a by Dean and was fouled. He hit the second of a two free throws to extend the lead to two points. The Lumberjacks then forced a turnover by Dean and Jones finished off his night with another layup with five seconds left to seal the victory.
“We had some good runs and we felt we were going to win the game,” said Jones. “We played hard and got some breaks and made some key plays. We had the mental toughness tonight.”
The game was close throughout with 18 lead changes and 12 ties in the ball game. NAU led by as five in the second half. With the game tied at 49, NAU got a three-pointer by Gabe Rogers. Josh Lepley, who finished with 11 points and nine rebounds, followed with a layup to build a game-high 5-point lead, forcing a timeout by the Eagles. The Eagles then went on a 7-0 run to take a 60-57 lead with 6:40 left in the game and held the advantage until the late run by the Lumberjacks.
NAU overcame 22 turnovers in the contest by allowing just 19 points off the miscues and scored 46 points in the paint with the help of Jones, Lepley and 11 points from Johannsen and nine by Nick Larson.
NAU led 36-35 at the half after shooting 64 percent in the opening period. The Lumberjacks kept the Eagles in the game with 12 first-half turnovers. Jones scored 13 points a perfect half from the field.
NAU got 26 points in the pant in the first half, helping the strong percentage from the field. The Eagles (6-12, 2-3 Big Sky) led by five points early in the game but the two teams exchanged the lead eight times throughout a half that featured eight ties. Larson’s three-pointer with 55 seconds left gave NAU the lead at the break.
NAU was coming off the a 25-point loss to Weber State that was the largest to a Big Sky opponent since NAU lost at Portland State by 26 points during the 1999-00 season (101-75).
“Coach challenged us this week,” said Jones. “We were not playing to the best of our abilities. We worked hard and deserved to win the game on pure effort. Road wins are very important and this gives us a lot of confidence.”
NAU will travel to Portland to play Portland State on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. The game is televised by Altitude as the part of the Big Sky Game of the Week package. The game will also be available on Big Sky TV and the Lumberjack Radio Network (KAFF AM 930 in Flagstaff). The game can also be heard on Stretch Internet.