CHENEY, Wash. – The Northern Arizona men's basketball team fell behind in the first half and never got back in the game, dropping a 72-59 decision at Eastern Washington Thursday night.
"I told the team all week long this was a desperate Eastern Washington team," said Head Coach Mike Adras. "They were going to play like their backs were against the wall. That is exactly how they played. We did not come out with what it takes to be successful on the road."
Eastern Washington led by as many as 15 points with 8:39 left in the second half. The Lumberjacks went on an 8-0 run to run the lead down to seven but the Eagles responded with back-to-back baskets. NAU did not cut the lead back into single digits until a three-pointer by senior guard Cameron Jones with 45 seconds left, pulling the Lumberjacks within eight points.
The Eagles sealed the game down the stretch, hitting their last eight free throws over the final minute.
NAU dropped to 10-8, 2-4 in Big Sky play, while the Eagles improved to 5-12, 2-4 in league play.
The Eagles had four players in double figures led by 14 points by Kevin Winford. Tremayne Johnson had 13 points off the bench and Cliff Ederaine had a game-best 12 rebounds.
The Lumberjacks gave up 17 offensive rebounds and were out-rebounded 41-30 overall. The Lumberjacks shot just 41 percent from the floor, the worst night from the field since NAU shot 36.5 percent at USC earlier this season.
"All we talked this week was rebounding," said Adras. "It was a poor performance and give them credit. They out-worked us. They were doing anything they had to do."
NAU was just 5-for-14 (35 percent) from beyond the arc and 14-for-24 (58 percent) from the charity stripe.
Eastern Washington led by eight at the half and went on a 10-3 lead to start the second half that forced the Lumberjacks in fight against the 15-point deficit the rest of the game.
"The thing we have to address is, 'How are we going to play this game?'", said Adras. "Are we going to play on our heels or are we going to be aggressive?"
NAU travels to Portland State to face the Vikings on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. The game is televised by Altitude Network and can be seen on Big Sky TV and heard on 105.1 FM The Big Talker and www.bigtalkerradio.com.
DID YOU KNOW…Northern Arizona finished third in the Sterling Savings Bank Presidents Cup recognizing academic and athletics performances in 2008-09. The award is based on team grade point averages, graduation rates and the number of all-conference performers with a grade point average above a 3.0, as well as Men's and Women's All Sports points.