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Men’s Basketball Sweeps Northwest Road Trip, Defeats Portland State

Men’s Basketball Sweeps Northwest Road Trip, Defeats Portland State

PORTLAND, Ore. – Northern Arizona won its second consecutive Big Sky Conference road game with a 93-86 defeat of Portland State Sunday afternoon. The Lumberjacks shot a season-best 71.7 percent in the game and out-rebounded the Vikings 30-19 in the game.

“I don’t think anybody thought we were going to miss the way we were shooting during warmups and the way everything else went,” said junior guard Eric Platt, who had 18 points off the bench. “Guys were knocking down shots and had a lot of confidence coming into the game after a great practice Saturday night.”

Cameron Jones recorded his fifth 20-plus point game in the last seven games and seventh overall on the season. He finished with a game-high 24 points in the contest. He went 9-of-13 from the field, hit both of his three-point attempts and grabbed five rebounds with four assists.

“Cameron has really stepped up for us this whole year especially these two games on the road trip,” said Shane Johannsen. “It is nice to have him step like that and hit some big shots for us. He is definitely being a leader for this team.”

The Lumberjacks led from the beginning and held the lead with their hot shooting. NAU made its first nine shots of the game, shooting 17-for-25 at a 68 percent clip in the first half. An 10-0 run to close the half highlighted by four points from Johannsen, three from Jones and a Platt three-pointer extended the lead to 11 points.

NAU had a 20-4 rebounding advantage at the break and were led by Jones’ 14 points.

“Our guards were able to get some good penetration and the bigs stepped over and they were able to dump it over to me for some pretty easy ones today,” said Johannsen, who was 8-of-9 from the field for a career-best 19 points off the bench. “That was the biggest thing with our guards able to break down their defenders and, when my guy cuts up, dishing off to me for an easy layup.”

NAU built the lead up to 20 points at 59-39 with 12:52 left in the game with the help of three triples, finishing the game 7-for-10 beyond the arc. The Lumberjacks added 20-of-27 free throw attempts.

Portland State, the two-time defending Big Sky Conference champions, fought back the rest of the game, cutting the advantage to five points at 81-75 with 1:50 left. The Vikings hit eight second-half three-pointers and shot 54 percent in the period to help the comeback effort.

“You knew they were going to come back,” said Head Coach Mike Adras. “It is what this team does. We made what plays needed to be made at the time.”

But NAU hit its free throws over the final two minutes, knocking down 10-of-12 attempts to seal the victory.

“It was a great, great job by our guys,” said Adras. “We talked about controlling the tempo and we did. But I never imagined scoring 93 points on these guys. It was a tremendous effort. They listened to what we asked them to do.”

NAU finished at 71.7 percent from the field, just short of the school- and Big Sky record of 74.2 percent set against Adams State in the 1984-85 season.

NAU swept the Northwest road trip for the first time since 2001-02 and won for only the third time in 15 games against the Vikings on the road. The win also snapped a six-game losing streak to Portland State and ended a 13-game home winning streak by the Vikings dating to last season. NAU has won three consecutive road games for the first time since 2005-06.

“The biggest challenge was getting two road games,” said Platt. “We knew if we came in with a lot of effort and energy we were going to be ok. I think that is what we did in the game. We had lot of careless mistakes but we made up for it with effort.”

NAU has a week off before returning to the court again next Sunday against Sacramento State. The Lumberjacks will be featured on the Altitude Big Sky Conference Game of the Week for the second consecutive week. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. from the Walkup Skydome.

Team Behind the Team
December 14, 2009 Team Behind the Team