Women’s Basketball Closes 2011 with 77-71 Loss at Northern Colorado
GREELEY, Colo. – NAU played Northern Colorado close, trailing by just a single possession with less than two minutes to play, but UNC sophomore D'shara Strange scored 29 points and the Bears held on late for a 77-71 win on New Years Eve in Greeley. The Lumberjacks dropped to 0-2 in the Big Sky and 5-9 overall while Northern Colorado improved to 9-5 and won its conference opener.
Northern Colorado jumped to an early 11-3 lead through the first four minutes of the game and led by eight points again at 15-7 before NAU went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 15-14 at the 11:33 mark. NAU was able to level the score at 19-19 with 7:23 to play, and took its first lead of the game on a made free throw by freshman Erikka Banks to bring the score to 28-27 with 3:40 remaining in the half. With the score even at 34-34, senior Caty Huntington drained a three-point shot at the buzzer to give the Lumberjacks a 37-34 halftime advantage.
The Lumberjacks extended their lead to five points after a jumper by junior Amy Patton to open the second half, but the Bears rallied back to bring the score even at 41-41. The game remained close, with NAU holding a 52-51 lead with 11:40 to play, before Northern Colorado went on an 8-0 run to open a 59-52 lead at the midway point of the second half. The Bears built their lead to 72-64 with 3:04 left, but NAU went on a 5-0 spurt to cut its deficit to just three points with 1:45 to play. NAU would then go scoreless until a last second layup, however, as the Bears tacked on five points to pull away for the win.
Patton was one of three Lumberjacks to score in double figures, finishing with 18 points while sophomores Amanda Frost and Khyra Conerly had 16 and 13 points, respectively. Patton added six rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and two steals, while junior Aubrey Davis also totaled six rebounds to go with eight points.
Northern Colorado shot 55% in the game and was led in all facets by Strange, who went 10-16 to finish with 29 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks. NAU shot 43% and was outrebounded 41-30, while UNC had a 22-8 advantage in made free throws. The Lumberjacks committed just 10 turnovers in the game, a season low, while forcing 19 giveaways by the Bears.
The Lumberjacks will open their home conference schedule on Thursday when they will host Portland State, the preseason media and coaches pick to win the Big Sky, at 6:35 p.m. in Rolle Activity Center.