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January 5, 2013

Men’s Basketball Defeated by Southern Utah

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Southern Utah's Damon Heuir scored a season-high 30 points as the Thunderbirds improved to 3-0 in Big Sky play with a 90-77 victory over Northern Arizona Saturday afternoon at the Walkup Skydome.

The Lumberjacks (5-9, 2-2) fell behind early as Southern Utah hit six three-pointers in the first nine minutes of the game to take an 18-point lead. NAU responded with 11-1 run to cut the deficit to 10 points and got within six points twice in the first half. The Thunderbirds then extended the lead back to double digits before the break.

"They came out and were the aggressor," said Head Coach Jack Murphy. "They took it to us from the start. I thought we were lax defensively out of the gates. They out-scored us 14-0 in the second four-minute period and that can't happen. We have to find an answer for that."

Senior guard Gabe Rogers, who finished with a team-best 23 points, led the comeback efforts in the second half with 20 points.  Michael Dunn, who was saddled with two early fouls, had 10 points in the second half.

"I was happy Gabe got going in the second half," said Murphy. "He made some of his jumpers and got to the free throw line."

Over the first six minutes of the second half, NAU cut the lead down to single digits behind a pair of three-pointers by Dunn and four free throws by Rogers, who went 9-for-11 at the line on the night.  The lead was cut to as low as five points with 12:33 left but it would be as close as the Lumberjacks could get.

"They did a good job of handling our pressure in the second half," said Murphy. "At the end, they made their free throws. All the credit goes to Southern Utah."

Southern Utah (5-7, 3-0 BSC) went 27-for-30 at the line in the second half while shooting 10-for-20 from the field. The Thunderbirds shot at a 56 percent clip for the game after going 15-for-24 from the field in the first half.

Heuir was 6-for-11 from the field and 14-for-16 from the line with four three-pointers to lead the Thunderbirds. Jackson Stevenett added 14 points, while Julian Scott had 13 off the bench. Wade Collie contributed 10 points in the game.

The game featured a combined 58 fouls and 76 free throw attempts.

"We need to overcome obstacles, forget about mistakes and keep moving forward," said Murphy. "It is something we did not do a good job of tonight."

Freshman guard DeWayne Russell finished with 18 points in the game and junior forward Max Jacobsen scored 16.

NAU was aided by 22 Southern Utah turnovers and 19 offensive rebounds but could not overcome the slow start.

The Lumberjacks travel on the road for their next four Big Sky Conference games starting with Eastern Washington on Jan. 10. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Arizona time.