GREELEY, Colo. – Northern Colorado pulled out a 72-71 victory over Northern Arizona in a tight game Saturday night at the Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion despite a pair of 20-point scorers by the Lumberjacks in a record-breaking night for Cameron Jones.
Despite the loss, the Lumberjacks clinched the No. 4 seed in the Big Sky Tournament with Montana State's loss at Portland State on Saturday 69-63. NAU will host the No. 5 seed on March 5 at the Rolle Activity Center.
"We did play well enough to win this game," said Head Coach Mike Adras on the Lumberjack Radio Network. "We just came up a little short."
Trailing 70-69, the Lumberjacks had a pair of attempts to take the lead by Jones, including a three-pointer from the right side and a running layup after the offensive rebound. UNC rebounded and Devon Beitzel was fouled, hitting a pair from the charity stripe.
UNC then fouled sophomore Stallon Saldivar, who hit a pair of free throws to pull the Lumberjacks within one at 72-71 with seven seconds left. Beitzel was then fouled again and missed both free throws, setting up a final possession for the Lumberjacks with 5.3 seconds left. Jones' three-pointer was off the mark.
The Lumberjacks led by five with 3:13 left on back-to-back baskets by Jones at 67-62. The Bears cut into the lead with a three-pointer by Chris Kaba and free throws down the stretch, scoring their final seven points at the line. NAU held their final lead at 69-68 with 1:06 left on a jumper by Jones, who scored seven straight points for the Lumberjacks.
"When we were down 59-52, Cam Jones took over and the next thing you know it was a tie ball game," said Adras. "He just played terrific all the way down to the end of the game, hitting big shot after big shot."
Jones finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. He became the all-time leading scorer in NAU history with a two-point jump shot from 18-feet at the 9:05 mark of the second half. Jones passed Kelly Golob, who had 1,550 points in his career.
"It means a lot to me and feels good knowing you worked hard your whole career for an honor like this," said Jones, who now has 1,562 points.
Gabe Rogers had a team-high 27 points, including 5-for-10 from beyond the three-point arc.
"Gabe played terrific tonight and really kept us in the game in the first half," said Adras. "He kept hitting shots in the second half and played so hard. He covered Beitzel for most of the game. I know Beitzel scored 23 but he only had six field goals."
Beitzel led the Bears with 23 points.
NAU shot 50 percent from the field and made 9-of-21 beyond the arc, out-rebounding the Bears. The Lumberjacks were hurt by 20 turnovers behind nine steals by the Bears.
The Lumberjacks clinched the No. 4 seed in the Big Sky Tournament and will host a quarterfinal game on March 5 at the Rolle Activity Center.
Ticket prices will be $15 for a reserved seat and $50 for courtside. Season ticket holder prices will be $12 and $40 for the courtside seats. The game will be on March 5 at 6:35 p.m. Season ticket holders can secure their tickets by calling the NAU Athletics department at 928-523-5353, while the general public can purchase seats at the Central Ticket Office. NAU students can purchase tickets for $10. Tickets will be on sale at the Central Ticket Office on Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or by calling 928-523-5661.
The Lumberjacks return home to host Portland State in the final regular season game Wednesday against the Vikings. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. The game can be heard on 105.1 FM The Big Talker or on the internet at www.bigtalkerradio.com.
The game will also be televised on Fox Sports Arizona, Fox College Sports and the NAU Network on Universityhouse.