FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Montana had five players in double figures and held Northern Arizona to 23 percent from the floor in the second half to post a 62-56 comeback victory in the Walkup Skydome Wednesday night.
Montana (5-4, 1-0 Big Sky) had five players in double figures with a balanced scoring attack with four players with 12 points on the night. Will Cherry, Mathias Ward, Jordan Gregory and Keron Deshields each scored 12 points in the contest.
"They are a well-coached team and very talented," said Head Coach Jack Murphy. "Getting Will Cherry back was a boost for those guys. I thought that they looked winded as times in the second half but they played through it and were tough. They are the defending conference champions. They have been where we want to go and have an attitude about winning that we are still trying to develop."
NAU (4-6, 1-1) led by as many as nine points in the first half behind 10 points by senior guard Gabe Rogers, who eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career in the opening 20 minutes. He is the 26th player in school history to accomplish the feat.
The Lumberjacks held off the Griz rally in the second half, holding onto the lead until a layup by Kareem Jamar at the 8:49 mark gave Montana their first lead since the opening minutes of the first half.
"It was a sloppy game at times especially in the second half," said Murphy. "We had too many turnovers. But our guys fought and battled and never wilted."
The game was tied for the final time at 53 all with 5:49 left in the contest but Montana got a long three by Ward at the end of a possession to put the Griz up for good. Down by four with under a minute left, NAU had a possession that saw three consecutive triples fall off the mark. Deshields grabbed the rebound after the third attempt and Cherry sealed the game at the line.
NAU had 15 turnovers in the game, including nine in the second half, and shot 35 percent (19-for-54) for the game.
"We took too many threes in the second half," said Murphy of the 2-for-10 line in the second half. "I think that was part of the reason we shot such a low percentage. There were a couple plays here and there that they made and we didn't. We can learn from this and move forward to be ready for conference."
NAU plays two non-conference games over the holidays before returning to Big Sky Conference play against Sacramento State on Jan. 3. The Lumberjacks play at Colorado on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and return after the break to play at BYU on Dec. 27. Friday's game at Colorado can be heard on the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 FM The Big Talker and seen on the Pac. 12 Network.