Men’s Basketball Tests Four-Game Win Streak at Weber State
OGDEN, Utah – The Northern Arizona men's basketball team takes its four-game winning streak on the road when it travels to Weber State to play the Wildcats for sole possession of third place in the league standings Thursday night at the Dee Events Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
"It is a big game," said Head Coach Mike Adras. "We went into last week knowing if we wanted to get back in the conference race we had to win all three. We did that and we turn right around and play a team that did the same thing. We have to go to their place now and one team stays in the race."
The top six teams make the Big Sky Tournament with quarterfinal games held on campus sites on March 5. The regular season champion hosts the semifinals and finals March 8-9.
"We want to continue to play well defensively," said Adras. "We want to pressure teams, force mistakes and convert and make some easy buckets. If we continue to do that, it has been a very effective strategy for us recently."
The Lumberjacks have lost the last five games in the series overall and have not won in Ogden since the 2007-08 season. The Wildcats won the first meeting of the season in Flagstaff, 68-67. Weber State's Lindsey Hughey hit a three-pointer with nine seconds left to help the Wildcats to the victory in the first meeting.
The teams enter the contest tied for third place in the Big Sky Conference standings at 6-4. Northern Colorado leads at 9-2, while Montana is one game back at 8-3 in league play. UNC and Montana meet on Saturday in Missoula.
The Wildcats have won 19 straight regular season conference home games and are 34-3 under Randy Rahe in regular season Big Sky home games.
"They are making plays both offensively and defensively," said Adras. "They have played different ways. They have four quality big guys and their perimeters guys can knock down shots when they are on."
In fact, Weber State is now fifth in the nation in three-point field goal percentage at 41.4 behind the Division I leading Lumberjacks, who are shooting 43.5 percent for the season.
Senior guard Cameron Jones led the Lumberjacks in the first game with 26 points, hitting 10-for-19 from the field with two three pointers and three rebounds.
"We are motivated to play them and they beat us last time in a heartbreak game so I think we are pretty anxious," said Jones. "We have to stop what they do and play the game with intensity."
Sophomore guard Stallon Saldivar, who hails from nearby Salt Lake City, is coming off one of his best games of the season. He had 11 assists, one of the top single-game assist totals in school history, while notching his fourth game of 10 or more assists on the season. He added eight points and six rebounds.
"I am sure he is going to be very excited," said Adras. "I hope not overly excited. I would like to see the Stallon Saldivar that played against Montana the other night. I understand there are going to be a lot of friends and family there. I expect him to go up there with the maturity level of the player who has started over 20 games for us this year."
The game is also a matchup of the Co-Big Sky Players of the Week, NAU's Shane Johannsen and Weber State's Trevor Morris. Johannsen, a 6-7 senior center from Valley Christian in Phoenix, Ariz., averaged 13.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.7 steals per game as the Lumberjacks earned home wins over Northern Colorado, Montana State and Montana. Johnannsen hit 76.9 percent of his shots from the floor in the three games.
Adras believes is could be an important individual matchup.
"Morris really hurt last time they were here," said Adras. "He had eight field goals in that game and a lot of them were from the perimeter. We have to do a better job of not letting him get going early in the ball game."