SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Michael Dunn hit a pair of free throws with 7.4 seconds left and the Lumberjacks survived a Hornet attempt at the buzzer by Dylan Garrity to post a 62-61 victory over Sacramento State.
"You cannot say enough about Mike," said Head Coach Jack Murphy. "He was really big stepping up to the line and hitting the free throws. We finished the game on the defensive end which is what we have been talking about. I was really proud of our guys."
The Lumberjacks completed the season sweep over the Hornets, picking up their second Big Sky Conference road win to improve to 8-14 and 5-7 in conference play. Sacramento State dropped to 10-10 and 5-7 in the Big Sky.
"The guys battled the entire game," said Murphy. "When we got stops, we were able to get out in transition which got us open looks. I thought once we got the momentum we did a good job of taking advantage of it."
NAU trailed for more than 38 minutes of the contest and was down by 14 points with 11 minutes left in the second half before closing the deficit in the final minutes.
Trailing by 10 at the half, NAU first got the deficit to four points at 39-35 over the first five minutes of the second half. But the Hornets responded with a 7-0 run to push the lead back to 11.
The Hornets held onto the lead the rest of the half before a 14-2 run helped the Lumberjacks get back in the game at 53-51 with 5:15 left. NAU finally took the lead at 58-56 when Gabe Rogers hit a three-pointer with just over two minutes left. It was the Lumberjacks first lead since the opening minutes of the game.
The Hornets' Cody Demps responded with a triple on the other end to give the Hornets back a one-point lead. NAU then got a fast break layup by Dunn off a turnover to go ahead 60-59.
After a Hornet timeout, Mikh McKinney hit a layup with 19 seconds left to put Sacramento State back up. The Lumberjacks pushed the ball back down the court and Dunn was fouled driving in the paint. The senior from Chandler, Ariz., hit both attempts at the line to seal the victory.
Dunn finished with eight points in the game. Rogers had a game-high 22 points for the Lumberjacks and Max Jacobsen had 16 points on 8-of-11 from the field.
"Max did a fantastic job," said Murphy. "I am really proud of his development and we need to continue to get him touches every game and be more consistent with our post game."
The Lumberjacks shot 54 percent from the field and went 6-for-8 at the line, including Dunn's two attempts in the final seconds.
NAU overcame 10 three-pointers by the Hornets and 13 points by John Dickson and Garrity.
"We played hard and tough defensively," said Murphy. 'They got some open looks on some leak outs, turnovers and missed assignments. In the second half, we did not have as many of those. We really contested the jump shots better."
The Hornets led by as many as 11 points at the 8:32 mark in the first half before NAU closed the gap to four points with a 7-0 run. Sacramento State then finished the half on a 10-4 to take 35-25 lead at halftime.
Jacobsen led the Lumberjacks in the first half with 10 points, making each of his first five shots from the field. NAU was hurt by nine turnovers but shot 57 percent from the floor in the first half, including 12-of-17 from inside the arc.
NAU returns home for two important Big Sky Conference games starting against Portland State on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. Eastern Washington visits on Saturday for a 1:05 afternoon contest.
"This win gives us a lot of momentum," said Murphy. 'We had to steal a road win to make up for some of the home loses we have had. Now the challenge is protect the home court. We have two very talented and well-coached teams coming in this week."
Thursday is "Think Pink" and "NAU Faculty/Staff Night". The first 500 fans will receive pink rally towels as all fans are encouraged to wear PINK in support of breast cancer awareness. All NAU Faculty & Staff may order discounted reserved tickets online by using the code FSJACKS or by calling 928-523-5661. At halftime, faculty and staff from various colleges will be competing in a free throw competition.
It is also the second of three "School Nights". Students who attend local DeMiguel, Kinsey, Marshall and Seachrist schools receive a $5 ticket discount for them and their guests.