February 22, 2014

North Dakota Uses Second Half Surge to Beat Northern Arizona

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Northern Arizona men's basketball hosted North Dakota in its second critical Big Sky matchup this week. The Lumberjacks fell to North Dakota with a score of 75-63 in a hard fought game.

The teams traded baskets throughout the first half as the difference between the two was no greater than six points. With 1:30 remaining in the first half North Dakota went on a 6-0 run to make it 30-24. NAU responded with a 7-0 run of their own highlighted by a monstrous baseline slam by junior Quinton Upshur. The Lumberjacks went into the half leading 31-30 after getting 14 points from the bench.

The second half started similarly to the first as the teams exchanged buckets. North Dakota went on a 9-2 run midway through the second half to take a seven point lead. NAU was unable to close the gap through the remainder of the night as they were outscored by 13 points in the second half.

Upshur made plays during the second half to keep the Lumberjacks in striking distance as he scored nine of his 18 points in the second half. NAU struggled from the field in the second half shooting just 22 percent from three compared to North Dakota's 71 percent.

"Halftime they were 4-of-12 from three and the second half they come out and hit a lot of shots," said head coach Jack Murphy. "They have great penetrators and they did a great job of driving and kicking."

Freshman Kris Yanku scored 15 points for NAU, including a 6-of-6 free throw performance. He also collected four steals, grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists.

Troy Huff led the way for North Dakota (12-14, 9-7 Big Sky) with 28 points followed by Jamal Webb's 14, Lenny Antwi's 12 and Alonzo Traylor's 11.

NAU (11-16, 8-8 big Sky) will look to regroup as it remains in a tight race for a spot in the conference tournament.

"We're not playing our best and we are capable of so much better," said Murphy. "We have ample opportunity to go out and prove our worth through the next few games but we have shot ourselves in the foot with the way we've played lately."

"I have to give North Dakota credit," said Upshur. "They really broke us down and took advantage of our mistakes. The rest of these games are must-wins and it starts with practice this week."

Notes: Double digit scoring games: Quinton Upshur (24), Kris Yanku (12)…Len Springs collected his 50th block of the season to remain in fourth place on the NAU season charts.