RENO, Nev. – Northern Arizona led by one point with 7:24 to go in Reno. From there, Portland State pressed the Lumberjacks and forced turnovers in the final minutes to top NAU, 80-67 in the first round of the Big Sky Tournament being held at the Reno Events Center.
"We had turnovers late in the game when we were in positions to attack their press and that hurt us," said head coach Jack Murphy. "I was really proud of how our guys battled. We were down about nine and chipped away at it. Unfortunately, the last 4-5 turnovers killed us late in the game."
Senior forwards Jordyn Martin and Ako Kaluna played in their final game donning the blue and gold. Martin finished with 808 career rebounds to move into fourth place all-time on the NAU record chart. Kaluna finished 19th all-time in the 1,000 point club with 1,173 points.
"The two young men sitting next to me (Kaluna and Martin) have represented this university with the upmost dignity, heart and toughness," Murphy said. "They are everything that is great about college athletics. They are two exemplary young men that I am happy to have been able to coach."
The Lumberjacks held a 25-14 advantage on the boards with Jordyn Martin collecting nine of them. Fellow teammate Kaluna was instrumental in NAU's point total making 4 of 6 shots for 12 points at intermission.
The Lumberjacks trimmed the Vikings five-point halftime lead to one with 8:08 remaining in the game after a basket by Martin. The scoring spree by NAU late in the second half resulted in the Lumberjacks taking a 57-56 lead with 7:24 to go on the clock. From there, NAU made four field goals in the final seven minutes of play. Portland State's defense caused problems for the Lumberjacks, resulting in too many turnovers down the stretch and NAU could not bounce back.
Deontae North led Portland State (15-15) with 25 points on 10-for15 shooting. De'Sean Parsons and Brandon Hollins added 14 points each. The Vikings will face No. 1 seed North Dakota on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
NAU (9-23) has dropped to 15-23 all-time in Big Sky Tournament games and 2-2 all-time versus Portland State in a tourney game.