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January 10, 2013

Torrid Shooting Leads Women’s Basketball to 83-68 Home Win

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Senior Amy Patton totaled 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead five Lumberjacks with double-digit scoring totals as NAU shot a season-best 51.7% from the field and 53.3% from 3-point range in an 83-68 win over Eastern Washington on Thursday night in the Walkup Skydome. The Lumberjacks won their second consecutive game to even their Big Sky record at 2-2 in their conference home opener and their first game in the Skydome since March 6, 2010.

"I thought we came out with great energy; we knew that it was going to be a battle against a very fundamentally sound offensive team and once we got our defense under control our offense came around," said NAU head coach Sue Darling following first NAU home win. "We shot well and the thing that I'm most proud of is that we had 21 assists on 30 field goals. It was a great night shooting the ball and finishing shots off great passes."

NAU (3-10, 2-2 Big Sky) equaled its highest point total of the season and had its top scoring half of the year as the team put up 50 points while shooting 63.0% from the field and 71.4% from 3-point range in the second half. The Lumberjacks shot 30-58 (51.7%) for the game and 8-15 (53.3%) from 3-point range while holding Eastern Washington (7-7, 3-2 Big Sky) to 38.8% shooting for the contest. NAU also outscored EWU 15-11 at the free-throw line and had a 9-5 advantage in steals.

In addition to Patton's game-high scoring total, Tyler Stephens-Jenkins, Aubrey Davis, Amanda Frost, and Raven Anderson also finished in double-figures. Stephens-Jenkins shot 5-of-8 for the game and 4-of-6 from 3-point range while Frost added 12 points and Davis and Anderson combined to total 23 points and 11 rebounds as a lethal combination in the post.

"They were terrific," said Darling of her two centers. "Raven was phenomenal in the first half and then Aubrey got the start in the second half and played the whole half and was outstanding. They're a nice tandem to have as they both have great strengths that they demonstrated tonight."

The win was NAU's first this season when trailing at halftime as the Eagles held a 36-33 advantage at the break. The Lumberjacks started the game strong with an early 9-1 lead that built to a 12-3 advantage after a 3-point make by Frost at the 15:43 mark. Eastern Washington got back within one point at 17-16 but NAU continued to maintain a lead until the Eagles tied the game at 29-29 with 3:57 left in the half. A Patton layup with 1:54 to play gave NAU a 33-31 lead but the visitors ended the half with a 3-pointer and a jumper to take a slim halftime lead.

An early 3-pointer gave the Eagles their biggest lead of the game at 39-33 to open the second half. Eastern Washington maintained a six-point cushion to a 41-35 score before the Lumberjacks used a 12-2 run to take a 47-43 lead. NAU held a 50-47 advantage with 14:34 to play before a 9-3 spurt extended NAU's lead to 59-50.

The Eagles had a manageable five-point deficit at 61-56 with 8:59 to play before NAU held Eastern Washington scoreless for four and a half minutes as a 9-0 run extended to a 13-2 spurt as the Lumberjack lead reached 74-58 with 3:09 remaining. NAU's lead was no less than 12 points for the remainder of the contest as the Lumberjacks evened their Big Sky record with a 15-point win.

"I think before I was psyching myself out and today I just let it come to me and I fed off my teammates," said Stephens-Jenkins, who had struggled to open conference play before finishing with 15 points and game-highs of six assists, three steals, and two blocks on Thursday. "I was just going out there and playing and not thinking about it."

The victory was the program's first win in the Skydome since Jan. 16, 2010 - a win that came over Portland State, the team that NAU will host on Saturday night. That game will tip at 6:35 in the dome following NAU's first indoor track meet of the season, the Lumberjack Team Challenge, which begins at 9 a.m.