Photos by Luke Adams (J+L Photography)
TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona came back from a first-half deficit to defeat Northern Arizona 53-39 at the McKale Center Saturday afternoon. The Lumberjacks controlled the tempo in the contest, holding the Wildcats to their lowest point total at home since 2008-09.
"The game could not have started better for us," said Head Coach Mike Adras. "They missed on their first three possessions and we rebounded the basketball and scored a couple of buckets. We were able to dictate how we wanted the game to be played."
The Lumberjacks effectively controlled the early tempo, frustrating the Wildcats in the early going. NAU scored the first two baskets of the game and led 14-7 early in the game. Arizona was held to just two baskets over the first 10 minutes. Both teams shot less than 40 percent in the first half.
The Wildcats went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 16 with 5:53 left and closed out the half with a 9-3 run to lead by six at halftime.
"They got a couple offensive rebounds and we had some breakdowns and did not score," said Adras. "That has been an Achilles heel for us this season, letting teams go on runs and we do not get ourselves off the snide."
NAU, which had 24 turnovers against BYU on Wednesday, had just four turnovers in the first half and nine for the game. Junior guard Stallon had seven points to lead the team, hitting two of three from the field. Freshman Colin Gruber and Michael Dunn each made a three-pointer in the opening 20 minutes.
Arizona took control of the game at the start of the second half, hitting four consecutive three-pointers to extend the lead to 14 points. Kyle Fogg hit three in a row for Arizona.
"Kyle Fogg did a great job," said Adras. "They have guys that have the ability to do that. One of them was going to step up and do that."
Gruber helped keep the Lumberjacks in the game, matching a pair of triples during the Wildcat run. Gruber scored 10 of his team-best 13 points in the second half. Dunn and Saldivar each contributed seven points for the Lumberjacks.
"Games like this for the young guys helps them mature quickly," said Adras.
NAU stayed in the game in the final 10 minutes, cutting the deficit to eight points two times.
"We stuck with the game plan and had a chance to stay right with them," said Adras. "We got to the five-minute mark and had to pick up the pace a little bit."
The Wildcats closed the game on a 10-4 to secure the victory, winning the 28th consecutive game against the Lumberjacks in the series.
NAU returns home Wednesday to host Pepperdine at the Rolle Activity Center, taking a nine-game home-court winning streak into the contest. The game can be heard on the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 FM The Big Talker and seen live on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox College Sports. NAU-TV and Big Sky TV will both have the game available with free video streaming online.