Women’s Basketball Scores 74-70 Win over Montana on Senior Night
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Senior Katie Pratt scored 11 points and added five rebounds in her final collegiate game and was one of four Lumberjacks to score in double-figures as NAU ended its season with a 74-70 win over Montana in Rolle Activity Center. NAU shot 52% for the game, ending its season at 9-20 overall and 4-12 in the Big Sky while Montana finished fifth in the conference with a 9-7 Big Sky record and a 16-13 overall mark.
"It felt good to send (seniors) Katie Pratt and Caty Huntington out with a win," NAU head coach Laurie Kelly said. "I thought it was a great team win for us, but its bitter sweet. This isn't the way I wanted our season to be, but hopefully Caty and Katie can feel some pride in walking off the court for the last time with a win and I really hope that it makes our returning players hungry."
Pratt started the game 3-for-3 from the field, hitting all three shots from three-point range and finished with 11 points to equal her season best. Huntington had missed the last-six games with a knee injury but got the start before being subbed out of the game following the opening tip.
NAU took a huge lead early as Montana opened the game shooting 1-for-21 from the field. The Lumberjacks led 15-2 through the first five minutes of the contest and maintained a double-digit advantage through the initial 11 minutes of the game. Montana used a 19-10 run following the opening Lumberjack spurt to cut its deficit to four points at 25-21 with 4:39 remaining in the half, but the home team would then score seven unanswered points to build back to an 11 point advantage. With NAU up 36-26, the Lady Griz would close the half strong and go to the intermission down just 36-31.
The Lumberjacks had a 45-40 lead through the initial four and a half minutes of the second period before Montana went on a 6-0 spurt to take its first lead of the game, 46-45, with 12:59 to play. The one point lead would be the only advantage of the game for the Lady Griz, as NAU built its lead back to 58-50 with 9:37 remaining. A 9-2 Montana run brought the Lady Griz within one point with four minutes to play, but NAU again responded to go back up by eight at 68-60. The visitors would get as close as three points in the final minutes but NAU made 6-of-8 free throws down the stretch to close out the 74-70 win.
NAU outshot Montana 58.3% to 27.0% in the first half and limited the Lady Griz to 34.3% shooting for the game. Montana did have a slight 42-39 rebounding edge but was outscored 32-22 in the paint and 12-2 in fast break points. The Lady Griz also shot just 6-of-21 from three-point range and 18-of-30 from the free throw line.
Junior Tyler Stephens-Jenkins led NAU with 14 points, hitting 4-of-6 from long range while adding four rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Khyra Conerly added 12 points and sophomore Amandra Frost finished with 11. Katie Baker led the Lady Griz with 22 points and seven rebounds.
Junior Amy Patton totaled nine points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals in the season finale. She ended her third collegiate season with 1,438 career points, just 12 points shy of second in career scoring in program history. She will also start her senior season just 280 points away from becoming NAU's all-time scoring leader, having averaged 479 points per season in three years as a Lumberjack.
"We need to look at how other teams in this league have been successful and take our talent and our depth and be that hard working, blue-collar team in practice every day," added Kelly in regards to next season. "As sad as I am to see this season end, tomorrow starts a new season, and I love that. I think we have leadership that wants to step up and I hope we leave the gym hungry for next year."