FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – NAU junior guard Amanda Frost hit a layup with 4.2 seconds left in overtime to lift the Lumberjacks to a 76-74 win over Southern Utah on Monday in the Walkup Skydome. Frost was one of five Lumberjacks to score in double-figures in the contest as NAU shot 49.2% for the game to pull out the win.
"It was a little bit too thrilling there at the end but it's always good to pull out a close win," NAU head coach Sue Darling said. "I really appreciate the way our team buckled down at the end; we got stops when we needed to get stops, we hit free-throws when we needed to hit free-throws, and then we got a clutch shot at the end off a clutch pass."
Neither team led by more than two points in the overtime period as NAU trailed 74-72 with 41 seconds to play. Senior Amy Patton hit a pair of free-throws to level the score at 74-74 and the Lumberjacks forced an ensuing Southern Utah turnover to get the ball back with 26 seconds to play. With the clock winding down Patton found Frost open under the SUU hoop for a go-ahead layup, and a last second 3-point attempt by the Thunderbirds was off target as NAU held on to record its first overtime win since Feb. 28, 2008.
"We weren't being clutch at the end (of games), and this game we came through," said Frost, who totaled 12 points in the game. "We just told ourselves that we weren't going to lose a game like this again. This is our house, and we delivered."
All five NAU starters scored in double-figures, with Patton leading the way with 19 points to go with a career-high nine assists and seven rebounds. Senior Aubrey Davis recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds on 7-of-11 shooting and senior Paige Haynes had a career-high 15 points while going 7-of-7 from the free-throw line.
Northern Arizona (5-15, 4-7 Big Sky) shot 50% or better in both halves and went 8-of-17 from 3-point range and 10-of-11 from the free-throw line. Southern Utah (10-11, 4-7 Big Sky) shot just 39.7% but had a 45-30 edge in rebounding including 20 offensive rebounds which led to 21 second chance points.
The Lumberjacks erased a five-point halftime deficit to force overtime and win for just the second time this season when trailing at the half. NAU started the second half on an 11-0 run to open a 46-40 lead just two and a half minutes into the second stanza. The Thunderbirds rallied back to level the score at 50-50 with 12:02 to play but NAU extended back to a six point advantage at 65-59 with just under six minutes left in regulation.
NAU's lead stood at three points with 1:40 left in the second half before an SUU layup brought the visitors within one point. After NAU missed a layup Southern Utah's Kimie Hawkins made 1-of-2 free-throws to tie the game at 69-69 with 40 seconds to play. The teams traded turnovers over the final 40 seconds of regulation with no shots attempted as the game went to overtime before NAU emerged victorious.
"After all those games where we didn't pull it out at the end, this is a new season for us," Darling said. "I'm proud of these kids; they stayed with it and they executed exactly the way they needed to execute. It's a great victory."
The first half began as a shooting clinic as NAU connected on its first five shots and took an early 12-5 lead. The Lumberjacks reached a game-high nine point advantage at 21-12 at the 13:07 mark of the opening half but an 8-0 SUU run brought the score to 21-20. The visitors battled back to tie at 27-27 with seven minutes remaining and extended to a game best 35-29 lead at the 5:01 mark. NAU came back to tie the score at 35-35 before SUU ended the half on a 5-0 run to take its halftime lead.
With the win NAU completed a season-sweep of Southern Utah and tied the T-Birds for seventh place in the Big Sky at 4-7, which would be the final qualifying spot for the Big Sky Championship. NAU will be right back on the floor at 8:30 p.m. Arizona time Thursday at Portland State before playing at Eastern Washington on Saturday.