Photo Courtesy Preston Trauscht
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After losing their first game at home in almost a year earlier in the week, the Northern Arizona men's basketball rebounded with an 80-67 victory over CSU Bakersfield Saturday night at the Rolle Activity Center.
It was the first game under Interim Head Coach Dave Brown, who took over the program Friday for Mike Adras, who resigned after coaching the team since the 1999-00 season.
"It is very gratifying and humbling to be part of this situation," said Brown. "These young men played their hearts out for me. It was really important to them. They had struggled against some Division I teams. This was a big game for them to get their monkey off their back and to play with the adversities of the last 48 hours and play that way was tremendous."
Freshman James Douglas scored a career-high 22 points, hitting 9-of-13 attempts from the field and four three-pointers. Junior guard Stallon Saldivar scored 16 points with seven assists and four rebounds, while redshirt freshman Gaellan Bewernick added 10 points and five boards off the bench.
"We had to get that first Division 1 victory and get settled in a little bit," said Saldivar. "We played with a lot of emotion and had a lot of adversity in the last 24 hours."
NAU, which scored only 40 points against Pepperdine on Wednesday, scored 40 points in each half, while shooting 55.1 percent for the game. The Lumberjacks made 9-of-18 three-pointers and hit 17-of-23 from the charity stripe.
The 40 points against Pepperdine were the lowest total in a home game since the Lumberjacks scored school-record low 22 against Weber State in 1979-80, while combing for just 79 combined points over the last two losses, the lowest in back-to-back games since scoring 41 and 39 in losses to Fresno State and Pepperdine in 1951-52.
NAU started off with a three-pointer by Colin Gruber but allowed a 10-0 by the Roadrunners, leading to a quick timeout. They responded with 14-6 run to tie the game.
'We had to calm them down and take a deep breath," said Brown. "We reminded them there is still a lot of basketball left. Once they got into the rhythm of the game they were solid and doing a lot of good things."
NAU finished the half strong taking a 40-32 lead into the locker room. The Roadrunners quickly tied the game in the second half and led by three at 50-47 with 12:36 left.
NAU then went on a 16-0 run to put the game away spurred by a change in their defense.
"They did a great job and shut Bakersfield down with the defense," said Brown.
NAU enters finals week to close out the academic semester and will return to court on Tuesday to start preparations for the next game against Arizona State on Saturday.
"We are trying to emphasize to these young men that we are a family," said Brown. "It is about Lumberjack Basketball. It is not about me or what was but about those young men and Lumberjack Basketball and this university."