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December 17, 2011

Men’s Basketball Upsets Arizona State on Saldivar Buzzer Beater

TEMPE, Ariz.  – Junior Stallon Saldivar hit a three-pointer with 0.6 left to lead Northern Arizona to the 69-68 upset of Arizona State Saturday at Wells Fargo. He finished with a career-best 24 points with nine assists and five rebounds.

"It is a big win for us," said Saldivar. "I am proud of my teammates."

The Lumberjacks defeated ASU for the second consecutive time after posting an upset in the 2006-07 season over the Sun Devils.

"I had planned that we would hit it to win it and told them that," said Interim Head Coach Dave Brown of the final play. "The guy was going to miss one free throw and we were going to get our chance. That is one thing we try to do to reinforce confidence. It is important and we want shooters to shoot."

 "It is about a group of young men and a university," said Brown. "It is a privilege to be part of it. It is about the NAU family. We are trying to pull these young men together as a family."

Freshman James Douglas added 18 points and senior Durrell Norman contributed a career-high 16 points in the victory.

NAU trailed the entire second half but hung around by shooting 59 percent over the final 20 minutes. Trailing by six points, Douglas cut into the lead with a three with 3:29 left and could never pull away. Gabe Rogers hit a pair of baskets down the stretch and Gaellan Bewernick scored with 1:16 left after playing the final 10 minutes with four fouls.

The Lumberjacks scored on eight of their final nine possessions to setup the upset bid.

Rogers' final jumper cut the lead to 67-66 with 23 seconds left. After a timeout, NAU fouled Trent Locket, who missed the second free throw to give NAU a shot at another chance.

Rogers found Saldivar with one second left from the right side to take the lead for first time in the second half and win the game.

"We had three good shooters on the floor in Gabe Rogers, James Douglas and Stallon Saldivar," said Brown. "It was Stallion's time to step up which he did all night."

Interim Head Coach Dave Brown was coaching in his second game after taking over for Mike Adras on Dec. 9.

The Sun Devils led by as many as eight points at the 11:44 mark of the first half but the Lumberjacks closed the half strong and led at one point. Douglas led the team with 12 points in the opening 20 minutes and gave NAU a short lived 26-25 lead with his sixth bucket of the half.

The Sun Devils re-took the lead with a 5-0 spurt and led by three at the half.

Cheekmur helped the Sun Devils with four three-pointers in the first half as the team shot 53 percent from the floor. The Lumberjacks managed just 33 percent from the floor but had a big advantage at the charity stripe, making 9-of-13 in the first half to the three attempts for the Sun Devils.

Junior guard Gabe Rogers returned to action against the Sun Devils, entering the game off the bench at 11:13 mark of the first half.

NAU stays on the road to take on Sam Houston State on Tuesday in the final game before the holiday break.