Patton Leads Women's Basketball to 67-59 Win over UC Riverside
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Junior guard Amy Patton notched her first double-double of the season with game-highs of 24 points and 13 rebounds in the Northern Arizona women's basketball team's first win of the season, 67-59 over UC Riverside Sunday afternoon at the Rolle Activity Center. Patton's 13 rebounds are tied for the second-highest total of her career, which she accomplished twice during her freshman season.
"Coach Kelly kept telling me to go in and make rebounding a focus," Patton said. "A lot of them just stuck into my hands, but I'll take it. I thought we played really good for our second game. We have a long way to go, but I'm glad we pulled the win out."
Unlike their season opener at Colorado on Friday when they fell behind 18-2 to start the game, the Lumberjacks jumped on the Highlanders early, leading 15-4 eight minutes into the game following sophomore guard Amanda Frost's three-pointer. UC Riverside slowly cut their deficit to four points with two minutes remaining until halftime, before the Lumberjacks used a 6-0 run to take a 31-21 advantage into the intermission.
The Lumberjacks' lead was down to just two at 42-40 with seven minutes left to go in the game, but once again the team responded with an 8-0 run over the next minute on three-pointers by Patton and senior forward Katie Pratt and a fast break layup by sophomore forward Khyra Conerly. The run put NAU up by 10 and they maintained their double-digit advantage over the majority of the remaining time on the clock, holding on for their first win of the 2011-12 season.
"I thought we did what needed to do to get a win," said head coach Laurie Kelly. "Our focus right now is to play better team basketball and we really would like to work the ball to get a good shot. We did a great job defensively in the first half, taking them out of what they wanted to do. There were moments where we looked really good and overall I'm really pleased."
The Lumberjacks relied on their returning players to capture the win with Pratt and Conerly each contributing 11 points behind Patton's 24. Senior guard Caty Huntington had a team-high five assists and junior center Aubrey Davis had a career-game with seven points and six rebounds in 24 minutes, all career-highs. Frost, a transfer, also chipped in eight points and four assists following her 18-point performance against Colorado.
"We've been young the last couple of years and we're still pretty young," Kelly said. "But I really relied on my veteran players today. We played people more minutes than we probably wanted to, but they were in it. The adrenaline was going and without (injured junior forward) Tyler Stephens-Jenkins on the floor, they made the plays down the stretch to pull out the win."
For the second straight game, the Lumberjacks won the rebounding battle, 39-36 and also outshot UC Riverside 40 percent to 37.7 percent. The Lumberjacks were 7-19 from three-point range (36.8 percent) and 20-27 from the free-throw line (74.1 percent).
The Lumberjacks will have a quick turnaround when they host Adams State on Tuesday for their third game in five days. The Grizzlies defeated Oklahoma Panhandle State in their season-opener yesterday, 104-79. Tip-off is set for 6:35 p.m. and will be televised nationally on Fox College Sports.