Men’s Basketball Hosts Portland State Saturday at Rolle
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's basketball team will look to snap its 10-game losing streak Saturday against Portland State. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at the Rolle Activity Center.
After losing their eight previous league games by 18 points per contest, the Lumberjacks have been in position to win the two games at home this week. NAU lost to Northern Colorado by two points on Monday in overtime and dropped a six-point decision to Eastern Washington Thursday.
"We want to win," said senior Durrell Norman. "It has been a while since we had a win especially at home. We are hungry to get one. Everyone is frustrated with how the season has gone. We just want to end it on a high note. I feel like we are bringing a lot more effort than we had earlier in the season. Everyone will be prepared on Saturday."
The Lumberjacks have dropped their last 10 conference games and have not won since Dec. 29 against Sacramento State, a stretch of 37 days entering Saturday's contest. It is the first 10-game losing streak since the 1990-91 season and first 10-game conference losing streak since the 1988-89 season (14 games).
"We are continuing to improve," said Interim Head Coach Dave Brown. "It is going to take time especially the big men to grow. They are young. This team is very young."
Junior Ephraim Ekanem has been a bright spot for the Lumberjacks, scoring a career-high 15 points against the Eagles on Thursday before fouling out. He has scored 62 points (8.8 pg) with 38 boards (5.4 pg) over last seven games, making 27-of-55 (49.1%) of his shots from the field during the stretch.
"I was proud of Ephraim's effort," said Brown. "I think he had his best game so far this season."
The Vikings have lost three in a row and stand at 10-12 on the season, 4-6 in the Big Sky Conference. Just a week ago, PSU was playing for a shot at third place. Now, following a 92-79 loss at first-place Weber State on Thursday, the Vikings are tied for sixth in the Big Sky.
NAU is 17-20 overall and 16-18 in Big Sky games all-time against the Vikings. The Lumberjacks are just 4-13 in the Big Sky era in Portland. Overall, NAU had won four straight over Portland State before the loss in Portland earlier this season. NAU is 10-6 all-time against the Vikings in Flagstaff, winning the last two in the series at home.
Michael Dunn had a career-high 16 points for the Lumberjacks in the first meeting with Portland State, hitting two three-pointers as part of a 5-for-7 night from the field. He was perfect from the charity stripe, making all four attempts. Junior Gabe Rogers had 13 points, while Norman notched 11 in the loss.
"I have been proud of them all season long and that will not end," said Brown.
The game can be heard on the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 FM The Big Talker in Flagstaff, Prescott and Sedona and online via The Big Talker website and their free Big Talker mobile app for Androids, Blackberries, iPhones and iPads. It will also be available online via Big Sky TV and NAU TV.
It is also being televised by NAU TV locally in Flagstaff. Fox College Sports (2/7 at 4 p.m.) and Fox Sports Arizona (2/8 at 4 p.m) will show the game on a take-delayed basis next week.