DAVIS, Calif. – Senior Gabe Rogers scored 27 points and freshman DeWayne Russell added 25 to lead the Northern Arizona men's basketball team to a 85-82 victory over UC Davis Sunday afternoon. The win snapped an 18-game losing streak dating to last season and gave Head Coach Jack Murphy his first career win.
"The streak is now one and it is our job to keep it going," said Head Coach Jack Murphy. "When we first met last April on a snowy night in Flagstaff, we talked about having a winning program. Today they fought and they won. They were winners on the court today which I am very proud of."
Rogers scored 27 points, including 14 in the second half, tying the third-best single-game scoring total of his career and just four points shy of his career high of 31 points. He went 10-for-23 from the field with four three-pointers, three steals and two assists.
"Gabe came through us after two games at Oregon and UNLV when the entire defense was designed to stop him," said Murphy. "He came through in the clutch."
NAU trailed early 7-2 but had taken the lead at the 15:16 mark of the half. Over the next 10 minutes, the Lumberjacks built at 14-point lead. Russell scored 21 of his 23 points in the first half, sparking the Lumberjacks in an explosive first half. NAU shot 51 percent over the first 20 minutes and led by nine at the half.
"DeWayne was unconscious in the first half," said Murphy. "He had 21 at the half and had 25 points on 12 shots. Do you know how difficult that is to do in a Division I basketball game? This is only his third game. He is a special player and is exactly who we thought he was when we recruited him."
Arizona State transfer Corey Hawkins had 20 in the first half to keep the Aggies in the game, finishing with a game-high 30 points. Former Sinagua High School product Ryan Howley had 10 points off the bench.
"We were the tougher team in the first half and we were the smarter team with only three turnovers," said Murphy.
The Aggies fought back in the second half, closing to within a single point four times. But the Lumberjacks had an answer each time, never surrendering the lead in the second half.
NAU sealed the game at the free throw line in the final minute. Leading 81-80, the Aggies had a chance to take the lead on a Josh Ritchert three-pointer with 38 seconds left. It went off the back of the rim and was rebounded by Michael Dunn. Still under the limit, UC Davis was forced to commit three consecutive fouls to get NAU to the line. Rogers hit a pair to extend the lead to three with 27 seconds left.
Dunn fouled Hawkins with nine seconds left and he hit a pair of attempts to cut the lead back to one at 83-82. Russell then hit two more free throws with four seconds left and the final three-pointer by Ritchart was off the mark giving NAU their first victory since last December.
NAU out-scored the Aggies 23-9 on second-chance points.
"It was the difference there at the end," said Murphy.
NAU travels to Las Vegas for a pair of games as part of the Global Sports Classic at Thomas & Mack Arena. The Lumberjacks play Jacksonville State at 1:30 p.m. Friday afternoon and then play the winner/loser of the Campbell and North Carolina A&T game on Saturday.