Women’s Basketball Pushes Montana State in 83-78 Loss
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – NAU rallied back from an early 13 point deficit to force a single possession game in the final seconds but was unable to overcome Montana State in an 83-78 loss Thursday night in Rolle Activity Center. Junior Amy Patton recorded her 14th consecutive double-digit scoring game with a team-high 20 points as the Lumberjacks dropped to 8-18 overall and 3-11 in the Big Sky and the Bobcats improved to 9-5 in the conference and 17-9 overall.
"We cut it to a one possession game but then just ran out of gas," said NAU head coach Laurie Kelly as her team trailed by just three points three different times in the final two minutes. "I just feel like we're so close to breaking through and being the team that we are capable of being, but I do think the little things right now are the difference. In the first half it was offensive rebounds and transition scores that hurt us, and in the second half it was putting them at the free throw line."
The Bobcats jumped to a 12-2 lead just three minutes and 10 seconds into the game, eventually opening a 22-9 advantage with 11:47 remaining in the opening period. NAU used a 19-6 run over the ensuing six minutes to draw within two points at 30-28, but Montana State would rally back to take a 36-30 lead with 2:13 to play. The Lumberjacks would close the half on a 5-0 run to go into the intermission trailing by just a single point.
A three-point play by Patton would give the Lumberjacks their first lead of the game at 43-41 at the 17:25 mark of the second half. The game would seesaw from there, as neither team led by more than three points as the game saw seven ties and eight lead changes into the final seven minutes of the contest. After the game was tied at 63 with 7:40 remaining, NAU would go scoreless for more than three minutes as the Bobcats went on an 11-0 spurt to build a 74-63 advantage. The Lumberjacks would respond with an 8-0 spurt to get back within three points at 74-71 with 2:02 to play, but they could get no closer. Montana State made 9-of-10 free throws in the final 1:39, eventually opening up a seven point spread before settling with a five point win.
Patton posted her third 20-point game in the last four contests, adding four rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Senior Katie Pratt and sophomore Khyra Conerly both finished with 10 points, with Pratt tying for the team high with six rebounds. Montana State had five players finish in double figures led by 24 points from senior Katie Bussey, who became the Big Sky's all-time three-point leader with her first of four strikes from long range 35 seconds into the game.
MSU shot 44% for the contest compared to 41% shooting for the Lumberjacks while NAU held a 40-39 rebounding edge. The Lumberjacks tied a season high with 20 free throw makes in 28 attempts, only to be outdone by the Bobcats' 23-of-26 performance from the stripe. NAU also made eight 3-pointers in the contest, led by a trio of long balls from sophomore Amanda Frost.
NAU plays its final road game of the season on Sunday in a non-conference battle at CSU Bakersfield at 1 p.m.