OGDEN, Utah – The Northern Arizona women's basketball team jumped on Weber State to begin the game and utilized a huge run to open the second half to earn a wire-to-wire 65-49 win in its regular season road finale Saturday night at the Dee Events Center. The Lumberjacks bounced back from their loss at Idaho State on Thursday to improve to 8-19 overall and 7-11 in the Big Sky with the win.
"This game was all about intensity, energy and focus on defense and on the boards and I felt that we did that better in the second half than we did in the first half," said head coach Sue Darling. "It's a big win for us and we're still in the hunt for the conference tournament. We're going to celebrate this win, regroup and get ready for Montana."
The Lumberjacks stormed out of the gates with a 6-0 run to begin the game. They held the Wildcats scoreless through the first five and a half minutes in which Weber State missed on its first five shots while turning the ball over five times. Led by NAU's starting backcourt trio of seniors Amy Patton and Paige Haynes and junior Amanda Frost, who combined for 20 first half points, the Lumberjacks maintained a steady lead throughout the game's opening 20 minutes and took a 30-24 lead into halftime.
The steady NAU first half single-digit lead quickly escalated after the intermission as it embarked on 17-1 run in the first eight and a half minutes of the second half. While the Lumberjacks were finding success inside – 12 of the 17 points were inside the paint – the Wildcats struggled without a field goal during that span as their deficit grew to 22 points at 47-25. Following the Lumberjacks game-deciding second half run, the Wildcats would not get closer than 14 the rest of the way.
Patton finished the game with a team-high 15 points and was a rebound shy of her eigthth double-double of the season. She also chipped in two assists and three steals to lead the Lumberjacks and is now two three-pointers from tying the school mark for three-pointers made. Frost had a nice all-around game with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists while sophomore Erikka Banks totaled 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
"The offense was at times spectacular and at times a disaster," Darling said. "We still have work to do and we haven't quite peaked yet. Nineteen turnovers is way too many turnovers on offense, but we executed for the most part pretty well."
The Lumberjacks never trailed in the game following their 6-0 run and a big reason was their offensive efficiency. Two nights after shooting just 23 percent from the field on against Idaho State, the Lumberjacks shot 27-of-55 (49.1 percent) from the field on Saturday while limiting the Wildcats to just 33 percent shooting. NAU found numerous easy baskets with a big advantage in points in the paint at 48-18 and they also turned 21 Weber State turnovers into 20 points. The Lumberjacks also controlled the glass with a 39-33 advantage in rebounds and had 14 assists to the Wildcats' 10.
NAU will return to the Skydome with its final two regular season games next week a half game out of the seventh and final spot in the conference tournament pending Southern Utah's game at Montana State on Monday. The Lumberjacks will host Big Sky leading Montana on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. before hosting Senior Day for their five graduates – Patton, Haynes, Tyler Stephens-Jenkins, Aubrey Davis, and Patricia Gortarez – on Saturday against Montana State at 12:05 p.m.