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Southern Utah Uses Bench to Top NAU, 84-68

Marcus DeBerry
Marcus DeBerry

CEDAR CITY, Utah – Northern Arizona's seniors produced on offense, but the lack of bench support halted the Lumberjacks on the road as it fell to Southern Utah, 84-68. The Thunderbirds snapped an 11-game losing streak after converting points off turnovers.

"We came out and gave them a big lead. I had to sub out all five of our starters," said head coach Jack Murphy. "When you dig yourself a hole out on the road, it's hard to get back. We had the same mistakes against them as we did in Flagstaff."

After a slow start that saw Northern Arizona (7-20, 4-10 BSC) down 10-2 to start the game, the Lumberjacks gradually climbed back into it with the leadership of senior forwards Jordyn Martin and Ako Kaluna. NAU outscored the Thunderbirds over the final five minutes of play, despite a last second basket by SUU's Randy Onwuasor to give the home team a 41-31 advantage at halftime.

Southern Utah (5-22, 3-11 BSC) started the second half with a two buckets, and then NAU responded with a 7-0 run to trim the Thunderbirds' lead to 45-38. The Lumberjacks came to within four points after a pair of made free throws by Kaluna changed the scoreboard to 49-45 with Southern Utah as the leader.

The Thunderbirds managed a 13-2 run which saw them go up 62-47 with 11:31 remaining in the game. The Lumberjacks cut Southern Utah's lead to 10 points five consecutive points from NAU.

Southern Utah, which had seven points off turnovers in the first half, added 16 in the second half and the Thunderbirds knew how to keep the Lumberjacks at bay. Southern Utah received 25 points from its bench and with two minutes left to play, the Thunderbirds were up 78-66.

Martin notched his 16th double digit scoring game of the season to record 20 points and six rebounds. Kaluna had his 13th double figure scoring game tallying 16 points and six rebounds. Marcus DeBerry added 12 points and six rebounds. The Lumberjacks were edged on the boards, 38 to 32, allowing the Thunderbirds to pull down more than their season average of 37.

Onwuasor, who had 15 points at halftime, finished the game with 25 points and seven rebounds. Jacob Calloway netted 16 points and James McGee added 12 points to round out Southern Utah's top scorers.

NAU continues its three-game road swing next week at Sacramento State (Feb. 23) and Portland State (Feb. 25) for its final two conference regular season road games.

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