FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona's seniors came out the gates shining this afternoon. The Lumberjacks were ready to lay it all on the line and they did so by taking care of business and beating second-place Eastern Washington, 76-61 in the Walkup Skydome.
"It was a good win against a great team," said head coach Jack Murphy. "It makes it very special to get a win on Senior Day. Jordyn (Martin) and Ako (Kaluna) played fantastic. I wish they had not fouled out. I was also happy to allow Jaleni (Neely) his special moment. JoJo (Anderson) had 20 points and nine rebounds. It was a big time performance today for a freshman. Marcus (DeBerry) was solid all-around as well and that's what we need."
The Lumberjacks held Eastern Washington to a mere five made field goals and the home team took a 37-20 lead at the half; despite a 3-pointer at the buzzer by the Eagles. NAU's offensive power duo of Kaluna and Martin were on-point as both players had 12 points each at the break.
Bogdan Bliznyuk carried the Eagles on his back with a 20-point second half performance. Eastern Washington (21-10, 13-5 BSC) closed the gap to 10 points midway through the second period, but the Lumberjacks kept the pedal to the metal and charged on. NAU made 14 of 18 free throw attempts in the final eight minutes of play to clip the Eagles' wings and secure a 15-point victory in the regular season Big Sky finale.
"We had an outstanding game plan laid out for today," said Murphy. "The guys came out and executed. We made it very hard for Jacob Wiley to score."
In fact they did, as Wiley was held to five points.
Martin notched a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. Anderson tallied 20 points and nine rebounds, while Kaluna added 16 points.
The Lumberjacks (9-22, 6-12 BSC) locked up the No. 9 seed in the Big Sky Tournament next week and will play at 2:35 p.m. PT/3:35 p.m. MST against Portland State in Reno. NAU split the season series 1-1 with the Vikings, as both teams won on their home court.