FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Despite a triple double from Stallon Saldivar, the Northern Arizona men's basketball team could not overcome the late three-point attack by Eastern Washington that led their comeback effort in a 77-74 overtime victory over the Lumberjacks.
The Eagles trailed by 18 points after a three-pointer by Gabe Rogers gave NAU its largest lead of the game at the 7:45 mark of the second half. Eastern Washington, which entered the game averaging 8.5 three-pointers made per game, hit six triples, including five in a row, to close the game on a 26-8 run. The game-tying three-pointer by Parker Kelly with 15 seconds left tied the game at 66. Four different players hit at least one three-pointer in the final eight minutes, including two each by Kelly and Tyler Harvey.
"We didn't finish it out as a team," said Head Coach Jack Murphy. "We did not make the plays we needed to at the end of the game in regulation and in overtime to win. They were the more intelligent team in the final 10 minutes of regulation and overtime. It is a direct reflection on me. I am disappointed in myself."
Saldivar had a chance to win the game on the final possession but his jumper was off the mark, forcing overtime.
Eastern continued the three-point strategy in the overtime period, taking all six attempts beyond the arc. Harvey and Kelly hit back-to-back threes to give the Eagles a five-point lead with 3:15 left.
The Lumberjacks got back within one twice on back-to-back baskets by Rogers, who finished with a game-high 25 points for the Lumberjacks. Saldivar recorded his 10th assist of the game on the second Rogers basket, recording the first triple-double in school history to go with his 13 points and 11 rebounds. It was the third triple double in Big Sky Conference play since 2000.
The senior from Salt Lake City, Utah, had his first career double-double on Thursday against Portland State, scoring 11 points with 10 assists.
"He has been building up to that for a while now," said Murphy. "He is an unbelievable human being and basketball player. He gets the most out of his body than anyone I have ever known. He maximizes every ounce of his talent. You have to give him all the credit in the world for battling in there for rebounds and being smart and intelligent with the assists. I wish we would have got the win so Stallon could celebrate more."
The Lumberjacks had two chances to win the game in the final 30 seconds. After a turnover on the first possession, Jeffrey Forbes hit two free throws to push the Eagle lead back to three points. Rogers' three-pointer was off the mark with a second left to give the Eagles the win.
Eastern won for the first time on the road this season to improve to 7-17 and 5-9 in conference play. NAU dropped to 9-15, 6-8 in Big Sky play.
Gaellan Bewernick finished with eight points and 11 rebounds, while Michael Dunn had 10 points and seven boards before fouling out. Rogers had 25 points to record his 10th game of 20 or more points on the season.
The Lumberjacks controlled the first half and led most of the first 20 minutes, taking a four-point lead at halftime. NAU extended the lead to double digits early in the second half as the Eagles struggled from the floor, hitting just two of their 17 from the floor to start the half. But Eastern finished the game hitting 10 of 17 down the stretch and overtime, including nine of their last 15 beyond the arc.
Eastern Washington hit 14 of 43 attempts beyond the arc in the game, shooting 36 percent overall for the game from the field.
NAU travels to Northern Colorado on Thursday for the first of two road games this week. The Lumberjacks play at North Dakota on Saturday.