Women’s Basketball Stymied in 70-51 Loss at Utah State
LOGAN, Utah – Sophomore Khyra Conerly scored a season-high 16 points, but Utah State got 21 points and 10 rebounds from senior Ashlee Brown and made 24 of 31 free throws as a team in a 70-51 victory on Monday in Logan, Utah. NAU will enter Big Sky play with a 5-7 record while Utah State defeated the Lumberjacks for the second consecutive season and improved to 6-5.
"We just seem to get in a hole early on the road and have to battle so hard and can never close the gap to get back in the game," said head coach Laurie Kelly. "Our challenge is to learn from what's been happening on the road and see if we can turn it around. We are starting 0-0 in conference play and are approaching that as a whole new season and the one that really counts."
NAU started the contest slowly, tallying just three field goals through the first nine and a half minutes of the game as Utah State opened up a 22-7 advantage before a Lumberjack basket by senior Caty Huntington. A three-point make by Huntington moved the score to 25-12 with 8:12 remaining in the half, but a 10-1 Aggie run extended the lead for the home team to 22 points. The Lumberjacks answered with a 10-0 run of their own, holding the Aggies scoreless for more than four minutes, to cut the deficit to 35-23, but Utah State's Maddy Plunkett hit a three to close the half and give the Aggies a 15-point halftime advantage.
NAU held Utah State scoreless through the opening three minutes of the second half, cutting the deficit to as few as 13 points, but the Aggies were able to maintain a double-digit advantage throughout the final period. NAU went on a brief 6-0 run to get within 56-41 with 6:30 to go, but Utah State responded with a 12-1 run to take a game-high 26 point lead at 68-42 lead with 2:42 to play. The Lumberjacks ended the contest with a 9-2 spurt to bring the final total to 70-51.
Conerly went 6-10 from the field and added four rebounds and three steals to go with her 16 points, while sophomore Amanda Frost hit a pair of shots from long range to finish with 10 points in the contest. Junior center Aubrey Davis had a solid game with eight points, 13 rebounds, and one block, and Huntington finished with eight points and a pair of steals.
Utah State shot 52% in the first half and held NAU to 30% shooting in the opening stanza and 33% for the game. Utah State had just one more rebound than did the Lumberjacks and both teams had 22 turnovers, but NAU went 3-14 from three-point range and 6-15 from the free throw line while the Aggies, who entered the game as the second-best free throw shooting team in the country, made 24 shots from the charity stripe and hit six three-pointers.
"There's just such a huge discrepancy between how we shoot at home and how we shoot on the road," added Kelly. "I challenged our players to take this week and try to get back on track. I'm confident in our ability to come back and I feel like we've learned a lot about ourselves in non-league play, and we still have high goals for ourselves in conference."
The Lumberjacks will break for the holidays before opening Big Sky play at Sacramento State on Dec. 29 at 8 p.m.