Patton Earns Weekly Honor; Women’s Basketball Heads to San Jose
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Coming off a championship in the Hilton Garden Inn Thanksgiving Classic, the NAU women's basketball team (4-3) returns to action with a game at San Jose State (0-6) at 8 p.m. Thursday before returning home to host Cal State Fullerton (3-2) at 2 p.m. Sunday in Rolle Activity Center. The Lumberjacks, who are 4-0 at home this season, will be looking for their first road win of the season in northern California.
Junior Amy Patton was named the College Sports Madness Big Sky Player of the Week after averaging 15.0 points and 10.0 rebounds last week in earning MVP honors in the Hilton Garden Inn Thanksgiving classic. Her 31 points for the week brought her career total to 1,116 points and moved her to fifth on NAU's all-time scoring list. She also added six steals and five assists in the two games, and posted her second double-double of the season with 17 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in NAU's win over Utah Valley. She is averaging 14.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.0 steals per game for the season.
The 4-0 home start for the Lumberjacks is the best season-opening home record since the 2005-06 team started 12-0 at home en route to a Big Sky Championship title. The Lumberjacks have averaged 72 points and 41 rebounds while shooting 44% in four home games compared to 52.3 points, 32 rebounds, and shooting 36% in three road games. NAU's three road opponents so far this season - Colorado, South Dakota, and Iowa State - have a combined 13-1 record, with the only loss coming from Iowa State against No. 15 Penn State.
"We've had a challenging road schedule, so (the San Jose State game) is a must-win," said NAU head coach Laurie Kelly. "To get that road win and to understand what it takes to go into someone else's gym and get a win is important for us early in the season. We need to take San Jose State very seriously and continue to get better every time we come out to get that first road win."
After totaling 31 steals in two games last week, NAU now ranks 37th in NCAA Division-I women's basketball in steals per game with an average of 12.4. The Lumberjacks have recorded at least nine steals in every game this season and recorded a season-best 18 thefts against Kent State last Saturday. Only Sacramento State (12.5) has averaged more steals per game in the Big Sky, while the NCAA leader, Wake Forest, averages 19.0 steals per game. Individually, four Lumberjacks have totaled double-digit steals already this season in Patton (14), Amanda Frost (12), Khyra Conerly (11) and Caty Huntington (10).
The Lumberjacks also rank among the national leaders in both three-point field goal percentage and three-pointers made. With a .355 three-point percentage NAU ranks 41st in NCAA Division-I, while the team's 6.3 three-point makes per game ranks 67th. The Lumberjacks lead the Big Sky in three-point percentage, led by the strong outside shooting from Patton and Huntington, who are both shooting 43% from long range this season, and the 12 three-point makes on the year by Frost.
NAU will be meeting San Jose State for the second consecutive season, but this year's Spartan team has an entirely new coaching staff. The team went 2-27 last year but returned four starters for the 2011-12 season. San Jose State is 0-6 so far on the young season, having been outscored by an average of 18.2 points per game, and is 0-2 at home. NAU is 4-1 all-time against San Jose State, including a 67-53 win in Flagstaff last season. The Lumberjacks have not played in San Jose since 1996, a 64-56 NAU win.
Cal State Fullerton begins the week at 3-2 and will host No. 24 Gonzaga on Friday night before traveling to Flagstaff. The Titans opened the season 3-0, including an 81-64 win at Sacramento State, before losing a pair of games last week in a tournament hosted by SMU. Senior Megan Richardson leads the team with 14.8 points per game and senior Lauren Chow averages 9.0 points per game while shooting 42% from three-point range. The Lumberjacks and Titans last met in 2005 during NAU's Thanksgiving tournament, with the Lumberjacks earning a 66-61 win. NAU is undefeated in three all-time meetings with Cal State Fullerton.