BOZEMAN, Mont. – Tonight's game between Northern Arizona and Montana State came down to tenths of a second, and it was the Bobcats who came away with the 68-66 win at Worthington Arena. The victory gave the Bobcats their second league win, while the Lumberjacks dropped their first conference game.
"The guys fought hard tonight. We didn't do our job defensively in the second half," said head coach Jack Murphy. "We didn't win tonight, but that doesn't come down to one play. It was an accumulation of plays. We were able to split this trip and we outscored our opponents by six points this week. We have to work on a few things and keep moving forward from here."
Despite shooting 37 percent from the floor in the first half, NAU (4-9, 1-1 Big Sky) trailed MSU (7-6, 2-0 Big Sky) by only four points, 30-26.
The second half got started with a quick three-pointer from Aaseem Dixon which led to an 8-0 run for the Lumberjacks and a 34-30 lead. The Bobcats struggled to stop the hot shooting of the NAU offense as Dixon continued to get the ball in the basket as NAU went up 43-40 over the Bobcats with 13:32 left in the game.
The Bobcats refused to give up as they started matching NAU buckets for buckets. MSU's Eric Norman connected on a three-pointer with 12:39 left in the game to give the home team the 45-43 edge. Gaellan Bewernick scored the next five points for NAU to regain the lead for the Lumberjacks.
With 7:48 left to play MSU held a 57-51 advantage as both teams were shooting over 50 percent in the half.
NAU was able to come to within two points after a three-point play by Quinton Upshur cut MSU's lead to 59-57 with 4:44 remaining.
The Lumberjacks never gave up as they chipped away slowly. Freshman Kris Yanku hit a pair of free throws and followed it up with a long range three pointer to tie the game at 64-64 with 1:55 left in the game. Upshur responded with a fastbreak layup to give NAU the 66-64 edge.
MSU's Flavien Davis hit a jumper with 32 seconds left to tie the game at 66-66. NAU had the opportunity to take the last shot of the game, but an offensive foul was called on the Lumberjacks with 6.1 seconds left on the clock.
The Bobcats inbounded the ball and Michael Dison was able to race down the court and score the gamewinning shot at the buzzer.
Dixon led NAU with 18 points, five assists and three steals. Bewernick netted 15 points, while Upshur had 11 points and Yanku added 10.
MSU's Davis led all scorers with 19 points. Dison had 18 and Paul Egwuonwu added 10 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Notes: NAU begins conference play 1-1…Four players scored in double figures for the first time since Dec. 7…Upshur recorded his 11th double digit scoring game…Bewernick registered his fourth double figure scoring game…Dixon recorded his eighth double digit scoring game…Yanku recorded his fifth double figure scoring game.
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