FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's basketball team overcame an 18-point first-half deficit to post an 83-74 victory over Eastern Washington Wednesday at the Rolle Activity Center. NAU improved to 10-1 at home this season and 7-6 in conference play to remain in fourth place in the league standings with a home game in the Big Sky Tournament on the line.
"We amped it up defensively and offensively in the second half," said Head Coach Mike Adras. "We had a more aggressive style of play. They came ready to play and they took it to us in the first half."
Sophomore Gabe Rogers and senior Cameron Jones combined for 40 points in the second half and 56 for the game to lead the comeback effort. Trailing 46-31 with 16:53 left, the Lumberjacks scored 13 straight points, including seven by Rogers, during a 31-9 run over an eight-minute span to erase the deficit and take a seven-point lead at 62-55 at the 8:52 mark.
The Eagles cut the lead to two points but never led the rest of the game.
NAU shot 72 percent in the second half, making 18-of-25 field goal attempts and hitting 18-of-26 free throws.
Rogers finished 10-of-15 from the field with a perfect line from beyond the arc (3-for-3) and at the line (6-for-6).
Jones had 27 points aided by an 11-for-14 night at the line with a career-high tying nine rebounds. Senior Shane Johannsen added 12 points and nine rebounds, one short of his sixth career double-double.
The teams combined for 72 free throw attempts and 58 fouls in the contest.
The Lumberjacks had 14 first-half turnovers, a total bigger than the count for 17 games during the season, while Eastern Washington hit six three-pointers and got 18 points from Glen Dean. The Eagles led 30-12 with 6:29 left in the half with Dean out-scoring the Lumberjacks 18-16 at that point after an 11-0 run opening the 18-point lead. The Lumberjacks did not score for seven minutes and went 8:25 without a field goal.
"Dean hit some tough shots with 18 in the first half," said Jones. "We new we had to put the clamps on him in the second half. They had more energy than us in the first half."
NAU managed to cut the lead to 12 at the break with the help of 11 free throws.
NAU travels to Cal Poly on Saturday to play a game in the Sears BracketBusters event. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. The game can be heard on the Lumberjack radio Network on 105.1 FM The Big Talker and on the internet at www.bigtalkerradio.com.