Photo Courtesy of Jeff Golden
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – The Northern Arizona women's basketball team tried to rally furiously down the stretch, but they were unable to overcome an early Cal State Northridge run. The Lumberjacks got within five late in the game, but would eventually fall 64-52 to the Matadors and fell to 3-4 this season.
"We had a big hole early and we were able to stop the bleeding and get the flow back our way," said head coach Sue Darling. "We played them even in the second half and we had opportunities but we didn't value the ball enough. It was disappointing in that sense, but it was nice to see that we were able to dig our way out of our hole."
The Lumberjacks endured a dismal start to the game and managed to pick up their stride late as they trailed 37-25 at halftime after finding themselves down by as many as 19. NAU's sloppy start mired by turnovers allowed Cal State Northridge to go on a momentum-changing 17-0 run to take a 20-4 lead eight minutes into the game. The Matadors then led 28-9 at the 7:36 mark before senior Amanda Frost started to lead the Lumberjacks' charge back. Her first of four first half three-pointers kick started NAU as it trimmed the lead to nine before CSUN capped off the first 20 minutes with a buzzer beater to take a 12-point halftime lead.
Coming out of the break, it was the Matadors who were sluggish as a series of events trimmed their lead to five as the clock approached the 13-minute mark in the game. Down 41-32, Frost was fouled while making a layup, which forced a stoppage on the court. After the situation was sorted out, Frost converted on her free throw attempt and was followed by junior Erikka Banks at the line, who received two shots courtesy of a CSUN flagrant foul. She would split from the stripe and the Lumberjacks closed to five.
Cal State Northridge quickly pushed its lead right back out to 12, but NAU had one more run. Banks contributed four points during a 6-0 run and when Frost made another layup, the Lumberjacks once again pulled to five at 57-52 with 4:13 remaining. However they would not get any closer as the Matadors finished the game on a 7-0 run to prevent the Lumberjacks from completing their comeback bid.
Although the Matadors shot only 37 percent from the field, they were slightly better than the Lumberjacks, who shot 31 percent for the game. The big differences in the game were Cal State Northridge's advantages in second chance points (15-3) and points off turnovers (30-17). The Lumberjacks were able to force 22 turnovers, but they committed 27 themselves.
We have to understand that at this point of the season, our team is getting better but so are (our opponents)," Darling said. "The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win games and that's what happened tonight."
Frost notched her third 20-point game of the season, recording 20 points exactly, which led all players. She was 5-of-8 from behind the arc and was one made triple shy of her career-high single game total. She also equaled her career-high of five steals in addition to three rebounds, three assists and a block.
NAU looks for the split of its final road trip before the start of conference play, Saturday afternoon at Pepperdine. Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.