FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's basketball team fought back from a 10-point deficit in the final 3:49 to force overtime but came up short 64-62 in a tough loss to Northern Colorado to open a six-game homestand Monday night.
"It is a tough loss but we had a second half rally," said junior Michael Dunn. "We just fed off the energy of the fans. It is good to be home and play in front of the fans and everybody in the gym. It was fueled by the fans and us wanting to put on a show."
Trailing 54-45 with 3:49 left, Dunn scored five straight points and Durrell Norman hit a layup to cut the deficit to two points. The Lumberjacks forced a three consecutive turnovers by the Bears and James Douglas connected on a three-pointer with just over a minute to play to give NAU its first lead since the opening basket of the game.
NAU forced two misses by UNC and Gaellan Bewernick grabbed the rebound, giving the chance for the Lumberjacks to snap their eight-game losing streak. Junior Stallon Saldivar hit the first of two free throws but missed the second, giving the Bears a chance to tie the game. Tevin Svihovic hit a running layup with 13 seconds left to tie the game at 56. NAU had a chance to win but was called for an offensive foul, giving the Bears another chance that was blocked by Norman to send the game into overtime.
"We have a good press and have young men that have a will to win," said Interim Head Coach Dave Brown. "I was real proud of that. I think it was a better effort throughout the game than we have seen in the last two outings. We felt the effort at the end was monumental and hopefully we can continue to build on that."
In overtime, the teams exchanged the lead five times before Svihovec put the Bears up by one with a layup. NAU had two chances to tie the game or win in the final 10 seconds. Saldivar missed a jumper in the lane with seven seconds left and UNC's Mike Proctor grabbed the rebound. Tim Huskisson hit the first free throw to extend the lead to two points but missed the second, giving NAU a final chance. James Douglas' jumper from the right side was off the mark as time expired.
"Overall we fought hard and came back in the end," said Douglas. "We showed some heart we have not seen in a while. We had needed to learn how to finish games. Coming into Eastern Washington we have a lot of fire. It is real tough in that locker room right now."
Douglas tied his career-high with 22 points, while Dunn finished with 13 and a career-high nine rebounds. Norman added 11 points off the bench. Tate Unrah led the Bears with 16 points and Mike Proctor had 17 boards.
NAU shot just 36.4 percent for the game but held the Bears to 38.8 percent and forced 16 turnovers.
The Lumberjacks lost their ninth consecutive game to drop to 5-17, 1-9 in Big Sky play.
NAU continues its homestand on Thursday against Eastern Washington. Tip is set for 6:35 p.m.