Men’s Basketball Finishes Regular Season with Win at Sacramento

Men’s Basketball Finishes Regular Season with Win at Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Northern Arizona men’s basketball team extended its winning streak to three games to end the regular season, pulling away from Sacramento State in the second half to post a 73-59 victory over the Hornets.

“It is a good win for us and gets us to 500 in league and we go into the postseason with a three-game winning streak,” said Head Coach Mike Adras. “A lot of things were important for why we wanted to win this game.”

NAU finished the season 14-13, 8-8 in Big Sky play in fifth place, entering the Big Sky Tournament playing strong basketball. The Lumberjacks won their sixth road game of the season, tying a mark for most road wins in a season under Mike Adras.

“It feels pretty good,” said Rogers. “It gives us confidence going into the tournament.”

The game was close throughout the first 10 minutes of the second half as neither team led by more than four points. Senior Nick Larson and junior Shane Johannsen made back-to-back layups to extend the lead to five points. NAU quickly extended the lead to 10 points with 5:09 left on a dunk by Cameron Jones and never let the Hornets get closer than six points the rest of the game. NAU closed the game out at the charity stripe, hitting 8-for-8 attempts down the stretch in the final two minutes.

Overall, NAU out-scored Sacramento State 47-32 in the second half.

Redshirt freshman Gabe Rogers scored 20 points, tying his career-high set against Portland State earlier this season. Jones added 18 points, shooting 6-for-14 from the field with three three-pointers.

Jones moved into third place on the all-time single-season scoring list with his 18 points, surpassing Ryan McDade’s 503 points scored in 2002-03 and Ross Land’s 516 in 1999-00. He finished the game with 520 points for the season entering the Big Sky Tournament.

Johannsen recorded his second consecutive double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. He posted his first double-double last Saturday against Eastern Washington with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Larson added 10 rebounds for the Lumberjacks.

“We are all pumped to finish up the regular season strong,” said Johannsen. “We slacked a little bit at the beginning but we picked it up. It was a team effort. Everybody did a good job in the second half.”

NAU made 20-of-21 attempts from the line in the game, making 95 percent for the game, and out-rebounded the Hornets 36-27 on the glass.

“We practiced it a lot this week,” said Adras of the free throws. “We shot a bunch and did a lot of conditioning this week. Everybody who stepped to the line for us hit free throws. It was encouraging to see.”

Justin Eller led the Hornets with 14 points.

The Lumberjacks fell behind by 12 points in the first half but closed the gap before the half with a 9-1 run capped by a three-pointer by Reid Wallace. Overall, NAU out-scored the Hornets 15-5 run to close the half and trail by a single point.

“We got off to a poor start tonight,” said Adras. “But we woke up in time.”

NAU will be off this week before traveling to Montana for the Big Sky Conference Quarterfinals. The Lumberjacks will play either Montana or Montana State depending on the outcome of the game between the two rivals Saturday night. The game is scheduled for Saturday night, March 6.

Montana will get the No. 2 seed with a win over Montana State and a Northern Colorado loss. Montana will be the No. 3 seed with a win over Montana State and a Northern Colorado win. Montana will be the No. 4 seed with a loss to Montana State. Montana State will be the No. 3 seed with a win over Montana State. The Bobcats will be the No. 4 seed with a loss.

Weber State clinched the outright title with win over Eastern Washington Friday night, while Portland State clinched the No. 6 seed with a win over Idaho State. Tomorrow, Northern Colorado gains the No. 2 seed and bye to semifinals with a win over Sacramento State, or a loss by Montana to Montana State. Eastern Washington and Idaho State were eliminated from postseason contention.

Friday’s Big Sky Scores
Weber State 85, Eastern Washington 57
Northern Arizona 73, Sacramento State 59
Portland State 98, Idaho State 63

DID YOU KNOW…The Northern Arizona University athletics department recorded its highest cumulative grade point average since 1997, recording a 3.16 GPA among its more than 300 student-athletes at the completion of the fall of 2009 semester.

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