CEDAR CITY, Utah – Senior guard Amy Patton became NAU's all-time leading scorer on a jumper at the 11:52 mark of the first half and junior Amanda Frost scored a career-high 27 points in her first game of the season to lead NAU to a 71-61 win over Southern Utah on Thursday night in Cedar City, Utah. Patton finished with 18 points as she surpassed Alyssa Wahl as NAU's all-time leading scorer and NAU earned its first Big Sky win of the season.
"I never thought I'd ever be at this point; I never came in thinking that I would be breaking records," said Patton. "It feels good and we got a win, which is most important. It felt good and it was a really good win for our team as a lot of people stepped up so I'm really proud."
Patton entered the game just four points shy of Wahl's NAU career scoring record of 1,678 points. She hit a jumper just 1 minute and 39 second into the contest to get to within two points of the record, then tied Wahl's mark with a running layup with 12:19 remaining in the opening half. Following a missed 3-pointer by the Thunderbirds Patton hit a straight away, step back jumper from just inside the 3-point arc to move to 1,680 career points and establish herself as the top scorer in program history in her 99th career game.
"She was a little bit under the weather today so she had to dig deep," said NAU head coach Sue Darling "She hit the three early shots to get the record and just played a really solid game all the way around. You have to give her a lot of credit but I know that she'll credit her teammates that helped set her up for what she did tonight."
Patton added 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the season to go with three assists, two steals, and two blocks. Making her season debut after recovering from an injury sustained just before the start of the season, Frost shot 10-of-15 from the field and hit three 3-pointers to surpass her previous career-best scoring total of 24 points achieved last season vs. Nebraska.
The Lumberjacks (2-10, 1-2 Big Sky) outrebounded the Thunderbirds (7-5, 1-1 Big Sky) 46-40 – their best rebounding margin of the season – and shot 43.6% from the field while holding Southern Utah to 33.3% shooting. The T-Birds entered the game as the top 3-point shooting team in the conference at 36% but were limited to just 4-of-19 (21.1%) shooting from long range on Thursday and were outscored by NAU 18-13 from the free-throw line.
"I thought this was a great team win," said Darling. "I have to credit the entire team; they really have kept getting better and better and have stayed focused on doing what it takes to win. Through hard practices we put ourselves in position to get a good win."
Patton's record tying and record breaking baskets gave NAU their first lead at 14-12 after the Thunderbirds opened the contest with a 10-2 advantage. The teams battled to a 21-21 draw 12 minutes into the game before the Lumberjacks used a 9-0 run over a three minute stretch to take a 30-21 lead with 6:48 remaining in the half. A 3-pointer by Frost gave NAU a game-high 38-28 lead with 2:25 to play in what would be the final points of the half.
The Lumberjacks were held to just two points through the first five and a half minutes of the second half as Southern Utah got within a 40-36 deficit. Frost would score the next eight Lumberjack points as NAU held a 48-42 lead with 11:46 to play and Southern Utah would be held scoreless for more than four minutes as NAU built back to a 51-42 lead with 8:57 remaining. A 6-0 Thunderbird run got the home team closer as NAU held a slim 56-52 lead with four minutes to play.
Frost would help NAU put the game away as her layup sparked a 7-2 NAU run to give the visitors a 63-54 lead with just 1:18 remaining. Patton and senior point guard Paige Haynes combined to go 4-of-4 from the free-throw line in the final minute to ice a 71-61 Lumberjack win.
"Having Amanda back was wonderful and she definitely provided a spark," said Darling. "Obviously Amanda's offensive effort was tremendous, but it was the intangibles, her fire, effort, hustle, and leadership that were the difference makers."
NAU will open the home portion of its Big Sky schedule with four consecutive games in the Walkup Skydome starting next Thursday at 6:35 p.m. vs. Eastern Washington.