Murphy, Lumberjacks Win Home Debut over Sam Houston State
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Freshman DeWayne Russell had a game-high 22 points and senior Gabe Rogers added 19 as Northern Arizona posted a 77-60 victory over Sam Houston State in the 2012-13 home opener and home debut for Head Coach Jack Murphy.
"I thought the guys played really well and played hard," said Murphy. "We knew they were going to be aggressive on the offensive glass. In the first half, we let stay in the game because we did not do a good job on the offensive glass."
NAU shot just 34 percent in the first half but still posted a nine-point advantage after 20 minutes.
Russell scored the first seven points of the game for the Lumberjacks as the Bearkats led by as many as four early in the game. NAU broke open a tie game with a three-pointer by Michael Dunn at the 10:30 mark and never trailed again in the contest.
The Lumberjacks pulled away in the second half, shooting 61 percent while notching 10 of their 19 assists in the contest. NAU led by 21 points midway into the second half and answered every Bearkat run including the spurt that cut the game to 13 points at one point.
"We have been a team that has done a good job with runs," said Murphy. "We have not let teams go on runs on us. It can be attributed to our seniors and the play of DeWayne Russell. They are sound and solid. When we needed big plays, we made them."
Russell went 6-for-10 from the field and 9-of-10 from the line with four rebounds and four assists. Rogers got hot in the second half, shooting 5-for-10 in the half to finish with his 19 points. He finished 7-for-23 from the field in the game with four three-pointers.
The game was the first collegiate game back in the Skydome in two years and the home debut for Murphy, who was hired in April to lead the NAU program. The Lumberjacks are now 3-4 on the season in seven games after posting just five wins a year ago.
The win snapped the program's eight-game home losing streak dating to the 2011-12 season.
"If we keep winning, people are going to keep on coming," said Rogers. "We are trying really hard to win."
NAU will play host to Loyola Marymount on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. in the Walkup Skydome.