Photo by Sean Ryan, the Lumberjack
EUGENE, Ore. – The Northern Arizona men's basketball team a overcame double-digit deficit in the second half and led late before falling by 10 points in the season opener and head coaching debut of Jack Murphy 83-73 at Matthew Knight Court Saturday.
"Our guys fought and did a great job," said Head Coach Jack Murphy. 'There were some things we did defensively that we need to clean up. We took way too many three-point shots and they got way too many free throws. We have to defend without fouling."
NAU trailed by as many as 12 points early in the second half and were still down 10 at 58-48 with 11:56 left in the game. But the Lumberjacks went on a 16-8 run led by nine points by Dewayne Russell during the stretch to cut the lead to two points at 66-64 with 6:23 left. Blake Hamilton then a three-pointer to give NAU a one-point lead with 5:44 left.
The Ducks, who advanced to the NIT semifinals last season, went on a 17-6 run to close the game and prevent the upset.
Russell finished with a team-best 15 points in his collegiate debut. Senior guard Michael Dunn had 13 points. Junior Max Jacobsen, who is from Lake Oswego, Ore., scored a career-high 10 points and grabbed five rebounds in the return to his home state.
"Max did a fantastic job for us," said Murphy. "He gave us a big boost and did a great job offensively."
The Lumberjacks shot 41 percent from the field and made just 10-of-29 three-point attempts. Oregon out-scored the Lumberjacks at the line by 17 points but had 18 turnovers in the contest.
"It was a tournament team we just played," said Murphy. "If we continue to play with passion, energy, toughness and intelligence, we can do some good things in the Big Sky."
NAU plays the second game on the road trip at No. 18 UNLV on Monday night in Las Vegas. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. Arizona time. The game can be heard on the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 FM The Big Talker locally and online via the Big Talker website and mobile app.